Written 2009 for Smoke Signals, by Robt. Pepper, ed.
Named after a Milwaukee civic leader, the Edmund Fitzgerald was a Goliath ship. Launched in 1958 it was, at 729 feet long and 75 feet wide, for 13 years, the largest freighter to ply the Great Lakes.
In 1957 Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company of Milwaukee, contracted with Great Lakes Engineering Works to build the ship with the stipulation that she be the largest on the Great Lakes. ♪♫ “As the big freighters go it was bigger than most”
The Fitz, as she was known, began her final voyage on Sunday, November 9, 1975, under the
command of veteran maritime Capt. Ernest M. McSorley ♪♫ “ With a crew and the Captain well seasoned”.
After loading 26,116 tons of Taconite, a porous iron bearing ore used in the automotive industry, at the Burlington Northern Railroad, Dock #1 in Superior Wisconsin, she steamed into history. Contrary to ♪♫ “When they left fully loaded for Cleveland” the Fitz was actually destined for Detroit to off load the ore and then on to Cleveland to dock for the winter.
As the Fitz left Wisconsin, a storm began brewing over the plains states. ♪♫ “The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait When the gales of November came slashing” By 2AM Monday the 10th, the National Weather Service had updated their gale warnings to storm warning, winds up to 55 knots. The Fitz had been traveling ahead of the Arthur M. Anderson, with whom she had maintained radio contact. ♪♫ “When afternoon came it was freezing rain In the face of a hurricane West Wind”.
Late on the afternoon of the 10th, Capt. McSorley radioed another ship, the Avafors, reporting that his ship had lost both radars and was taking on water.
At about 7:10, the Arthur M. Anderson contacted the Fitzgerald and inquired as to how they were making out. The Fitz responded, "We are holding our own". This was the last communication from the ship. Shortly thereafter, the Edmond Fitzgerald disappeared from the Anderson’s radar screen. ♪♫“At 7PM a main hatchway caved in”
♪♫ "...They might have split up or they might have capsized they may have broke deep and took water”. A number of theories exist about what caused the Fitz to sink. The one most generally accepted is that, having sustained damage to some of hatch covers, allowing her to take on water into the cargo holds and the porous ore, she plunged headfirst into a. monster wave and abruptly sank.
There were no survivors among the 29 souls on board. An intact lifeboat and a one partial lifeboat were found indicating that,contrary to the song, ♪♫”The Captain wired in he had water coming in And the good ship and crew was in peril” the crew was caught completely unawares.
On July 4, 1995, the ship’s bell and stanchion were recovered from beneath 550 feet of Lake Superior. Sonar and other electronic scanning devices have located the Fitz in two pieces on the floor of the lake 17 miles NNW of Whitefish Point, Michigan. ♪♫ “The searchers all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay If they'd put fifteen more miles behind her”.
A November 1975 Newsweek story of the Edmond Fitzgerald inspired Canadian singer Gordon
Lightfoot to write and record one of the greatest story songs in history The Wreck Of The Edmond Fitzgerald.
The song rose to number 2 on the charts in November 1976. Among the cryptic lyrics of the song is the line ♪♫ “The Lake, it is said, never gives up her dead”. None of the bodies from the Fitz were recovered, as the frigid waters of Superior suppress natural decomposition and the resulting gases, which cause a body to eventually rise to the surface.
THE TIDE IS SURE TO WIN priscilla leonard
WE SHALL RETURN ON MONDAY, LORD WILLING!
On the far reef the breakers recoil in shattered foam,
While still the sea behind them urges its forces home.
Its song of triumph surges o'er all the thunderous din:
The wave may break in failure, But, THE TIDE IS SURE TO WIN
The reef is strong and cruel upon its jagged wall.
One wave, a score, a hundred, broken and beaten, fall.
Yet in defeat they conquer, the sea comes flooding in,
Wave upon wave is routed, But, THE TIDE IS SURE TO WIN!
Oh! Mighty sea, thy message in clanging spray is cast.
Within God's plan of progress it matters not at last
How wide the shores of evil, How strong the reefs of sin.
The wave may be defeated, But, THE TIDE IS SURE TO WIN!
seriously ROW vs. WADE Decided: January 22, 1973
"If a child survives an abortion attempt, a prohibition exists to save the child's life. The child must be left unattended to die or euthanasia is permitted."