Tuesday, November 18, 2014

....when the skies of November turn gloomy.

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down

of the big lake they called "Gitche Gumee."

The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead

when the skies of November turn gloomy.

...Gordon Lightfoot, "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"

Among the photos of the Edmund Fitzgerald that Great Lakes explorer Frederick Shannon shared was an image with two unexplained orbs or burning objects about the size of golf balls.

Known as Image 2028, the photo was among more than a thousand taken by Shannon from inside a two-person Delta submarine while hovering 530 feet below the surface of Lake Superior off the starboard (right) side of the Fitzgerald's bow in July 1994.

"No debris was in the water, and nothing was dropped from the surface," Shannon said. "There is no logical explanation for their sudden appearance."

The objects, which left a trail of bubbles in the murky photo, floated toward and disappeared into the hull of the ship, he said.


Fitzgerald Legend and Mystery Live On

The mystery. The history. That song.

Whatever the reasons, the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald endures as a subject of endless fascination.

"That doesn't surprise me," Tom Farnquist, executive director of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society, said Monday, as he fielded an annual round of calls about the Nov. 10 anniversary of the disaster and the ceremony that will mark it Wednesday at Whitefish Point.

"There are schoolkids who do a report on it, and they just get obsessed into adulthood with it," he said. "It happened recently enough (1975) that a lot of people are still around who remember it.

"And there are still probably more questions and theories than answers. ... There's a full explanation for all the other shipwrecks, but nothing was ever conclusive about the Fitzgerald. There were no survivors. And that song ..."

"That song" is "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," by Canadian troubadour Gordon Lightfoot, which, despite its grim subject, climbed to No.2 on the Billboard pop charts within a year of the disaster and is replayed on radio stations around the country every November.

Lightfoot was initially subjected to some criticism for making a commercial success out of the tragedy, but insisted that the song was a tribute to the crew and today enjoys a good relationship with the families of the men who were lost.

"He came here in '95 for the ceremony, and the families asked him to never stop singing it because it is keeping those men alive," Farnquist said.

He said about a dozen relatives of the 29-man crew lost on the Fitzgerald are expected at Whitefish Point for this year's observance. The society's museum at the Point -- the nearest land to the wreck site -- houses the 200-pound bell from the Fitzgerald, which was recovered in 1995.

The Shipwreck Museum, at the end of a road leading to Lake Superior, is only open May 1-Oct. 31.

"Up where we are, you have to want to drive here, you're not going to happen upon us," Farnquist said. "They want to know about the Fitzgerald. Some people just want to stand on the shore and look out at the lake, as if they want to feel it."

At 729 feet long, the Fitz was a giant among lakes freighters. It lies in only about 550 feet of water, a testament to the forces of nature on the Great Lakes.

That may be some of the allure of the Fitzgerald story here in the Great Lakes State, where you grow up being warned "don't argue with the lakes" and get quickly to shore when skies darken.

People from elsewhere who have no concept of the scope of the lakes -- or the fury they can unleash -- may wonder how such a mighty vessel could be destroyed in waters not nearly as deep as the boat was long. But those who have seen the lakes angry, those who know that the loss of the Fitz was, in fact, far from the worst of many such Great Lakes tragedies, understand the power that comes with the beauty around us.

And each year, around now, they remember. They think about those 29 men and their mighty ship. And they wonder, as Gordon Lightfoot did, "does anyone know where the love of God goes, when the waves turn the minutes to hours. - Detroit Free Press

Gordon Lightfoot - The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald - Click for video

NOTE: Here are links to excellent references - S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald Online and The Sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald - November 10, 1975

Mighty Fitz: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald (Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage)

The Edmund Fitzgerald: Song of the Bell

29 Missing: The True and Tragic Story of the Disappearance of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald


  1. The Love of God has seen me through waves,storms&situations
    every bit as bad or worse than those that night....

    I have a white Bible that was all we salvaged from our house after Katrina.

    EVERYTHING else was buried under black mud.

    That Bible was SPOTLESSLY preserved and dry like it was
    leaving the only polished place in the house on the countertop it was left on.

    The logical explanation?

    It was a MIRACLE.

    As for the Fitz,
    The tragedy was that she was a disaster looking for a place to happen.

    There were
    no pumps in the cargo section,
    no depth sounder but a rope-type "lead-line"
    and the greed of Industry
    tried to blame the Captain&Crew.

    They resisted making changes even after the shipwreck because it would create
    "economic hardships for the owners".

    The owners?

    Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company.

    The customers?

    The US Auto&Steel industry.

    They couldn't AFFORD it?

    The ship didn't even have adequate radar and navigation equipment-
    The Arthur M. Anderson was navigating for her from WAY
    behind her.

    The thing is,
    the Fitz had also even had her
    load line changed
    and she ran too deep after that.

    It tended to make her fall off a
    head sea uncontrollably and she had no choice but to come all the way about.

    All so she could carry a few more rocks....

    She was really nothing but a motorized barge-
    she had no bulkheads,bilge pumps
    OR any way to measure the levels of the bilges in her massive cargo section-
    she was,again,a disaster looking for a place to happen.

    She was like the Titanic,
    but worse,
    as far as I am concerned.

    After all,
    100% of everybody onboard died and her problems were already known
    and without excuse.

    At least the Titanic resulted in improved safety.

    don't think that everyone up there on the Lakes was taken totally by surprise.

    However she went down,
    it was almost certain that the
    Three Sisters that took her there.

    The Arthur M. Anderson experienced their passing at the time that would
    indicate their arrival coinciding with the foundering of the Fitz.

    Look it up.

    The only mystery is in the details-
    The Coast Guard and the NTSB could never agree,
    even though the pieces of her wreckage were quickly found and analyzed by sonar
    (within a week).

    Within 6 months,
    the first unmanned sub was there.

    Jacques Cousteau took the first manned sub down there within
    5 years.

    They speculated that she broke up on the surface.

    Of course,
    no living human knows for sure what happened that night-
    that's for sure.

    Only God knows-
    and He is not saying...

    There are so many mysteries that the science of men just bring more questions and less answers to
    every day...

    Any honest man will just admit when they don't know.

  2. A short PS:

    That Bible was completely underwater for over a week.

    After that was black mud....
    then black mold.


    The water there was approximately
    3 feet over that Bible during that time
    and then came the Mud&the Mold.

    When were finally allowed to return to Orleans Parish,
    EVERYTHING was thrown out,
    including the walls&floors which were stripped and scrapped.

    We were next to the canal that divided
    Orleans and Jefferson Parish in Metairie.

    those were some of the Best,
    and Worst (of course!) Times
    of my entire life....


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