Remembering the 47th anniversary of the Edmund Fitzgerald

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Remembering the faces, names and memories of those who lost their lives aboard the Mighty Fitz. During the 47th anniversary, families of these men still hold them in their hearts and minds.

The Edmund Fitzgerald, built in 1955 was the largest ship at the time to sail the Great Lakes. But in 1975, it would be the last time the freighter would enter the cold waters of lake superior.

Hayes Scriven, the site manager at Split Rock Lighthouse said the sinking of the Fitzgerald led to increased safety measures. Also better means of communication and and radars for naval navigation in the Great Lakes for shipping.

“And the Fitz was a big, you know, catalyst for all of that. This was the most recent loss of life, a shipwreck on the Great Lakes. And that’s why it’s kind of a big thing for us to remember.” Scriven said.

At the time, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald did have advanced technology, but it was no match against the November Gales. Especially with the thick fog, snow and high waves on the night of November 10th. However, many remember Gordon Lightfoot’s song, ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’, about the famous shipwreck.

“It was the biggest ship that had the best technology. And then yet the lake still claimed it. Even though the technology has progressed so far and these ships are a lot better and newer, it’s still nature. You’re never going to be able to tame nature. We see that today with the weather that we have right now.” Scriven said.

While the gales of November is still a significant concern, we have improved ways of knowing when it becomes dangerous to sail in Lake Superior. Eric Peace, the Vice President of Lake Carriers Association explained how better weather predictions can help save more lives and ships.

“We have a lot better forecasts of what’s going to happen, sometimes five days out. Even better decision making tools allow us to judge, risk and make better decisions based on the weather conditions in the forecast and what’s actually occurring.” Peace said.

Although we continue to have better ways of communicating, enhanced radar, and more developed ships for sailing Lake Superior. We must not forget the 29 fathers, sons, and brothers who lost their lives on that night 47 years ago.

For our story about Split Rock Lighthouse allowing visitors to come for the memorial you can read it here

For more information about the Edmund Fitzgerald you can look here