Tuesday marks 40 years since the Edmund Fitzgerald sank to the bottom of Lake Superior, killing all 29 men onboard, and people across the Great Lakes are marking the somber anniversary.
The iron ore freighter left Superior, Wisconsin, for Detroit, Michigan, with a load of taconite, but the ship encountered a fierce storm. After battling wind gusts of over 70 mph and 25-foot waves, it sunk 17 miles from Whitefish Point, Michigan, on Nov. 10, 1975, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum says.
Although the cause of the ship's sinking will never be known, scientists with the University of Wisconsin-Madison say rogue waves – waves that are double the size of others – are a potential cause of the Edmund Fitzgerald's fate, the Duluth News Tribune says. (Read more about the science behind rogue waves here and here.)
The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum says the legend of the ship remains "the most mysterious and controversial of all shipwreck tales heard around the Great Lakes," surpassed only by the Titanic, noting the Edmund Fitzgerald's story has been told in books, movies, and even inspired the 1976 ballad "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."
The ship's legend brings people together every year to mark the tragic event, the Duluth News Tribune says, and the 40th anniversary of the ship's sinking is being marked by ceremonies in Minnesota and across the Great Lakes.
At 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Split Rock Lighthouse on the shores of Lake Superior will hold its annual beacon lighting and memorial service. The lighthouse will close temporarily while the names of the crew members are read, MPR News reports.
A similar memorial service will be held at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, when the Fitzgerald’s bell – which was recovered from the underwater wreck in 1995 – will be tolled 29 times for each crew member.
It will be rung an additional time for “all Mariners lost on the Great Lakes,” the museum says.
Several other events will be held to in Michigan to mark the anniversary, the Detroit News says, including the premiere of the documentary "A Good Ship and Crew Well-Seasoned: The Fitzgerald and Her Legacy" at the National Museum of the Great Lakes. (Watch the documentary streaming live here starting at 7 p.m.)
Over the weekend, the annual Gales of November convention in Duluth marked the ship's tragic fate.
Follow along as The Detroit News tweets the events leading up to the Fitzgerald's sinking. More tweets from the anniversary:
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