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Anniversary of Edmund Fitzgerald Sinking

Perhaps not as uplifting as the recent NFL success of Drew Brees, the tragic sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975 was recalled on its anniversary on November 10 of this year. The ship sinking was made even more famous the year after it happened when folk singer Gordon Lightfoot memorialized it with his epic song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald". The wreck was the worst in Great Lakes shipping history, with the ship worth around $24 million at the time of the disaster. All 29 crew members on board were killed and none of their bodies were ever recovered. The event is still widely talked about especially on the anniversary every November 10 because its cause remains a mystery.

On November 10, 1975, the "Mighty Fitz" as it was nicknamed was in the Canadian waters of Lake Superior in the middle of a gale. It had been in radio contact with another vessel and was given advice on how to try to wait out the storm. Less than 10 minutes after last radio contact, the other vessel arrived at the location where the Edmund Fitzgerald, but it was already gone. All information available at the time indicated that the sinking was sudden and unexpected by the crew [1].

Largest Ship in Great Lakes

The SS Edmund Fitzgerald was the largest ship in all the Great Lakes at the time it was launched in 1958. It was a Great Lakes freighter ship, one that made the run between the Iron Range mines near Duluth Minnesota all the way on down to iron works in port towns like Detroit, Toledo, and others. It ran into some trouble owing to its huge size through the years, running aground once in 1969, colliding with another boat in 1970, and striking lock walls in 1970, 1973, and 1974 [1]. All of these problems seemed to foreshadow what was to become of the Mighty Fitz, a fate that finally came to it in 1975.

When the Edmund Fitzgerald sunk on November 10 1975, it was carrying over 26,000 tons of taconite. That cargo plus the financial value of the ship made this an incredible loss for the industry just in financial terms alone. It wasn't like filing an import car insurance claim after a small wreck. This was the biggest ship in the Great Lakes snapping in half and sinking, for no known reason.

Edmund Fitzgerald Dives and Theories

Since 1980 when Jacques Cousteau became the first human to dive to the wreckage of the Edmund Fitzgerald, many other dives have been done by people and by unmanned vessels. Yet even after all of these years, there is still a mystery as to what made the huge ship sink. The pivotal part of the question appears to be whether the Edmund Fitzgerald broke in half at the surface or once it hit bottom. Even this mystery has not been solved to anyone's satisfaction following all of these dive missions, because some theorists look at notes and pictures taken of the wreckage and say that they indicate it split in half and then sunk, while other look at the same evidence and feel it proves that it did not break in half until it reached the floor of Lake Superior.

The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald continues to grab our attention because it is still such a mystery. How such a mighty vessel could have sunk so suddenly and so inexpertly has never been fully resolved. One thing the Edmund Fitzgerald does show is that we never know when our time might be up, so we should be ready for anything.

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