One of the most famous shipwrecks in Great Lakes history is being remembered Monday.
The Duluth News Tribune reports it was 39 years ago that the Edmund Fitzgerald sunk as a massive snowstorm ("the gales of November") struck Lake Superior. All of the freighter’s 29 crew members, including several with families in the Duluth-Superior area, were lost in the wreck.
Split Rock Lighthouse will host its annual beacon lighting and memorial service for the victims of the Fitzgerald and all Great Lakes wrecks. On Monday afternoon, staff will ring a bell 29 times, in honor of each man who lost his life on the Fitzgerald, and then toll the bell a 30th time for all lost mariners. After that, the lighthouse’s beacon will be lit. It’s the only time of the year that visitors can climb to the top of the tower while the beacon is lit and revolving.
The Sault Ste. Marie Evening News notes that another solemn bell-ringing memorial service will be held at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. It will host the annual Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Service Monday evening. The ship’s bell was recovered in 1995 and is on display as a memorial at the museum. Each year the bell is uncovered and rung 29 times during a “Call to the Last Watch Ceremony.” It, too, rings the bell an additional time for all mariners lost on the Great Lakes.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer calls the shipwreck's legend "second only to the Titanic." It famously was memorialized by Gordon Lightfoot's 1976 song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."
When the Edmund Fitzgerald was christened in 1958, it was the largest freighter on the Great Lakes. The ore carrier left Superior Nov. 9, 1975 ; it got caught in a massive storm on Lake Superior. The Detroit Free Press recalled that on its ill-fated final trip, it was taking more than 26 tons of taconite pellets to Detroit. Its last radio contact was with another freighter on the evening of Nov. 10; soon after the Fitzgerald disappeared from radar near the entrance to Whitefish Bay at the eastern end of the lake.