North Shore marks 42 years since Edmund Fitzgerald sinking

It's the only day you can tour Split Rock Lighthouse after dark.
Publish date:
Updated on

On this day 42 years ago, the Great Lakes freighter S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald passed intolegend when she sank off the coast of Michigan, taking all 29 crew members with her. 

On Friday, Split Rock Lighthouse in Two Harbors, Minnesota, will be holding a memorial event in honor of those lost on Nov. 10, 1975. 

The lighthouse promises a day of activities beginning at 11 a.m., which includes "costumed guides," a film about the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, and at 4:30 p.m., a symbolic lighting of the beacon. 

The tower will be closed during the annual tolling of a ship's bell – one ring for each of the sailors who died – but afterwards will be lit and open to visitors again. 

"This is the only opportunity each year when visitors can climb the tower after dark and see the lit beacon," Split Rock Lighthouse says. 

It's just one of several memorials happening around the shores of Lake Superior. Perhaps the most notable is taking place at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Paradise, Michigan, where the actual bell from the ship – which was recovered in 1995 – will toll for the victims Friday evening.

Here's more about other events happening around the region. 

The legendary wreck

The massive freighter left Superior, Wisconsin, on the afternoon of Nov. 10, bound for Detroit, Michigan, with a load of taconite. It never arrived.

Sailing into a fierce snow snowstorm ("the gales of November") in shallow waters, she was overcome by waves and sank, becoming the most famous of the Great Lakes shipwrecks. 

Two of her crew members – maintenance man Thomas D. Borgeson and porter Nolan S. Church – were from Minnesota, and the ship was a frequent visitor to the Duluth-Superior port. 

The tragedy was popularized the following year by Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, with his hit song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." 

Next Up


The Edmund Fitzgerald remembered 37 years after wreck

Saturday marks 37 years since the Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior on Nov. 10, 1975. A crew of 29 men died in the shipwreck. The freighter carrying taconite traveling from Superior to Detroit made its last contact with a nearby ship, the Arthur M. Anderson, a little after 7 p.m. that fateful day. Minutes later, the ship disappeared from radar screens.

106-year-old barge sinks in Duluth harbor

The Coast Guard and salvage workers are trying to recover a nearly full 1,000-pound propane tank on board the barge, which sank early Thursday, the Duluth News Tribune reports. A Coast Guard spokeswoman says the barge itself will have to be removed if it disrupts navigation or poses a pollution threat.