The freighter, Arthur M. Anderson, had been trailing the Edmund Fitzgerald during the fateful, November storm, that sank the Big Fitz in 1975. The Anderson reported the missing ship to the U.S. Coast Guard, and had made the safety of Whitefish Bay in the early morning hours of November 11, 1975. The Anderson then joined other ships, and reversed coarse back into the storm, to look for survivors.
After making the post on the Edmund Fitzgerald last week, I received a tip from Ogdensburg, New York along the Saint Lawrence Seaway, that the Anderson was back on Lake Superior on the 45th Anniversary of the sinking of the Fitz. In fact, it had passed the location of the wreck of the Fitzgerald early on the tenth, and came into the Duluth Harbor that evening.
I was simply amazed that the Anderson was crossing the same waters on the 45th Anniversary.
The above video is 9 minutes long, the Anderson appears at the 3:50 mark. The Master Salute to the Fitzgerald would have been something to experience in person along the canal.
The great freighter sank 45 years ago today, taking all 29 crew members to the bottom of Lake Superior with her.
Growing up in Minnesota, and spending a fair amount of time along the shores of Lake Superior, the story of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald is one that I had heard from early childhood.
Construction on The Fitz started in August of 1957. The Great Lakes Engineering Works was tasked with building a freighter that would come within one foot of the Saint Lawrence Seaway’s maximum length. The customer was the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The ship was launched in June 1958, bearing the name of the president of Northwestern Mutual Life. The cost for the 729′ long freighter with a 26,000 long ton capacity, was $7 million.
For 17 years, The Fitz hauled iron ore from Duluth and Superior to cities like Detroit and Toledo. It took five days to make the run between Toledo, Ohio and Superior, Wisconsin.
The Fitzgerald set several cargo records during its time on the Great Lakes, often breaking her own previous record. In 1969, the ship hauled 27,402 long tons in a single run.
The Fitz quickly became popular with the public. Captain Peter Pulcer would play music over the ship’s intercom, whenever they went through the St Clair and Detroit Rivers. Near the Soo Locks, Pulcer would often talk to the public over a bullhorn, explaining details of the ship.
A storm was building over Oklahoma’s panhandle on 9 November 1975. Weather forecasters predicted that it would stay south of Lake Superior. At 2:15pm, on the same day, the Edmund Fitzgerald left the port of Superior, WI.
The storm moved fast, and by 1am on the morning of the 10th, The Fitz was reporting waves at ten feet. By 2am, the National Weather Service had upgraded its warnings from gale to storm.
The SS Arthur M. Anderson, which had been traveling with The Fitz, started to fall behind the faster Fitzgerald at 3am. The Anderson recorded winds of 58mph at 1:50pm. It started to snow heavy at 2:45pm, and the crew of the Anderson lost sight of the Fitzgerald at that time. The Fitz was approximately 16 miles ahead at this point.
At 3:30pm, Captain McSorley of the Fitzgerald, radioed the Anderson that they were taking on water and had lost two vent covers. The United States Coast Guard had closed the Soo Locks, and told ships to seek safe anchorage.
By late afternoon, waves had increased to 25 feet and wind gusts hit 67mph. The Anderson recorded gusts of 86mph and waves of 35 feet. The Edmund Fitzgerald tried to make Whitefish Bay, where the Whitefish Point light was working, but not the radio beacon. By now the Fitzgerald was blind, having lost both its radar.
At 7:10pm, Captain McSorley radioed the Anderson, that they were “holding their own”. The Edmund Fitzgerald sank within minutes of that final message. There was no distress signal.
The fully loaded Edmund Fitzgerald went down 15 nautical miles from Whitefish Bay. All 29 crew members perished; no bodies were recovered. The Fitz now lies 530 feet below the surface of Lake Superior.
A U.S. Navy Lockheed P-3 Orion, equipped with technology usually associated with finding submarines, found the wreck on 14 November 1975. The ship was in two pieces on the lake floor.
Every year on November 10, the Minnesota Historical Society hosts the Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Beacon Lighting Ceremony at the Split Rock Lighthouse in Two Harbors, MN. This year’s ceremony will be virtual, hosted on the Historical Society’s facebook page. The ceremony starts at 4:30 CST, with the beacon lighting at approximately 7:30pm.
The 2018-19 Division 1 college hockey season is now underway.
The University of Minnesota opened the season against last year’s national champion Minnesota-Duluth with a home and home series.
On Saturday the two programs skated to a tough 1-1 tie in Duluth.
Stub & Herb’s, a campus tradition
Minnesota came out in a flurry for new coach Bob Motzko’s first home game. At the end of the first period, the Gophers held a 3-0 lead, with sophomore Brannon McManus netting two.
The Gophers were overtaken by an unnatural desire to sit in the penalty box for period two, which gave Duluth some life. The Bulldogs would score the first two goals of the period, but Sammy Walker would follow up with a goal for Minnesota and Rem Pitlick would add a short handed tally for the Gophers. Minnesota now led 5-2.
The two teams would trade goals in the final frame, giving Minnesota a 7-4 win over their in-state rival.
The Bulldogs outshot Minnesota 46-23, mainly due to the nine penalties the Gophers took. Junior goaltender Mat Robson was solid in net for Minnesota.
It was a good atmosphere at Mariucci, with 8000+ fans in the stands for a Sunday night game.
Gooseberry Falls with Lake Superior in the far background
My cousin and I decided we needed a hiking trip when I was back in Minnesota, and her suggestion to head up I-35 to Duluth was met with enthusiasm by me. The Duluth area is special to her, and I had not spent much time along the North Shore of Lake Superior in years.
We ended up at Gooseberry Falls State Park, which allowed us to jump on the Superior Hiking Trail. The SHT runs along Lake Superior’s North Shore for 310 miles between Duluth and the Canadian border. We would hike 8-10 miles of it on this warm April day.
The Gooseberry River
We spent much of the hike within sight of the river. The Gooseberry flows 23 miles before it reaches Lake Superior. It was an incredible day for a hike, with temps in the mid seventies, which was warmer than the Twin Cities on this day.
I had hiked a good section of the SHT years ago, and it is a wonderful trail. Grouse were drumming all along the hike, and one flushed right next to my cousin, which was amusing to watch. How was I to know that she had no idea the bird was within a few feet of her?
The river provides five waterfalls within the park, and all are accessible by trail.
After making my loop through the UP to Duluth, I had to stop by Canal Park for a visit to Grandma’s Saloon and a walk along the shore. The wind had already been working on the waves, and everything was coated with a slick glaze of ice. Still, it was a nice day to be alongside Superior.
I made it over to the city’s iconic aerial lift bridge. The lift bridge began life as an extremely rare transporter bridge in 1905. One of only two such bridges ever built in the United States, a transporter bridge carries a section of roadway across a span – like a gondola. In 1929, the bridge was converted to a vertical lift bridge, which is also uncommon.
The span is 390 feet, and can be raised to it’s full height of 135 feet in 60 seconds.
This Minnesota senior class has won four consecutive regular season championships, been to two Frozen Fours and one National Championship game, but they have not won a tournament championship. It’s their last chance, and the Michigan Wolverines stand in their way.
The season series has each team with two wins. This is the rubber match. It should be a very entertaining game at Joe Louis. The winner is guaranteed a spot in the National Tourney, and Michigan has to win to get in.
Graphic courtesy of Golden Gopher Hockey
Update: 22 March
Captain Kyle Rau with the B1G Tournament Trophy. Photo credit: StarTribune
The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers defeated the University of Michigan Wolverines 4-2 in the Big Ten Championship game. The victory gives Minnesota the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament, and the loss knocks Michigan out of the field for the third year in a row after 22 consecutive appearances.
The Gophers will move on to the Northeastern Regional in Manchester, NH to face the Bulldogs of Duluth. It will be the fifth meeting this year between UM & UMD.