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The Final Voyage of the Edmund Fitzgerald

A Ship's Doomed Journey

By Author Eve S EvansPublished about a year ago 3 min read

There have been millions of ships built over the centuries, but only a handful have achieved fame. Most of those that have done so were warships or vessels that displayed such a degree of innovation that they were considered prototypes in the evolution of ships. Some ships have achieved notoriety not because of their accomplishments, but because of their catastrophic failures. The sea beds are littered with examples of the power of both nature and the human propensity towards violence, miscalculation, and simple bad luck.

Some vessels become famous because of their involvement in wars or major conflicts, while others are remembered because of the wealth they were carrying or a large number of lives lost. Tragic shipwrecks are a part of history that still fascinates people today.

The Great Lakes see a lot of ship traffic, and as a result, there are more non-war-related shipwrecks per square mile than any other body of water in the world. While most people imagine the vast oceans to be the most dangerous waters to sail upon, the Great Lakes can be just as treacherous.

The most well-known event occurred on November 10, 1975, when the large ore carrier Edmund Fitzgerald was caught in a harsh November storm. After hours of battling high winds and 30-foot waves, the ship suddenly disappeared from radar without issuing a distress call. All 29 crew members were lost.

The Edmund Fitzgerald embarked on her voyage from Superior, Wisconsin to a steel mill near Detroit on November 9, 1975. She was carrying a full cargo of ore pellets and Captain Ernest M. McSorley was in command. The Fitzgerald joined a second taconite freighter, SS Arthur M. Anderson, en route.

Edmund Fitzgerald reported significant difficulty to Arthur M. Anderson before she sank. No distress signals were sent, and Captain McSorley's last communication was that they were "holding their own."

Her crew of 29 lost their lives when the ship sunk, and no bodies were recovered. The cause of the sinking is still unknown, though there have been many books, studies, and expeditions dedicated to finding an answer. The Edmund Fitzgerald may have been swamped, experienced structural failure, been damaged topside, run aground on a shoal, or some combination of these factors.

The S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald is the most famous shipwreck on the Great Lakes, largely due to singer/songwriter Gordon Lightfoot's popular song about the event. The shipwreck itself was relatively unknown outside of the maritime community until Lightfoot's song brought attention to it.

While the cause of the sinking is unknown, later investigations revealed that the ship broke in two. This suggests that it either hit the bottom of the shallow lake and broke apart, or a large wave picked it up and threw it into the depths of the lake. Whatever the cause, the ship is now considered a grave and is off-limits to divers. It stands as a reminder that even the largest vessels are no match for the Great Lakes when conditions are unfavorable.

The Great Lakes shipwreck resulted in updated laws and regulations regarding shipping, which included the use of survival suits, depth finders, positioning systems, and increased freeboard. There was also a requirement for more frequent inspections of ships.

The Edmund Fitzgerald was just one of many ships to succumb to the Great Lakes' treacherous waters. These wrecks continue to fascinate people today because they offer a glimpse into the perils of sailing on these large bodies of water.

This shipwreck might not be as well-known as the Titanic, and the loss of life wasn't as high. But it's still a tragic event. With our current technology, we should be able to prevent shipwrecks like this from happening as often as they have in the past.

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About the Creator

Author Eve S Evans

After residing in two haunted houses in her lifetime, Eve Evans is enthralled with the world of paranormal. She writes ghost stories based on true events and fictional thriller & horror novels.

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