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The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald By Jadzia Wheeler


When most people think of shipwrecks, they probably imagine Titanic, but there were many other historically significant shipwrecks besides the Titanic. One of them is the Edmund Fitzgerald. Built by The Great Lakes Engineering works, it was named after Edmund Fitzgerald, president of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company. It was launched on June 7th, 1958. At the time of the launching, it was the largest freighter on the great lakes at 729 ft. Several said to be unlucky things happened at its launching, including a man who witnessed it having a heart attack, the vessel hitting the dock during its launching, and it took Mrs. Fitzgerald 3 swings to break the champagne bottle at its christening. This is typically viewed as a bad omen for vessels at their christening. On November 9, 8:30 am, the Fitz was loaded with 26,116 tons of taconite pellets at Burlington Northern Railroad, Dock 1. The ship was scheduled to transport the cargo to Zug Island on the Detroit River. At 2:20 pm, the fitz departed Lake Superior en route to Detroit with the cargo in its hold. At 2:39 pm, The National Weather Service issued gale warnings for the area the Fitz was sailing in. On November 10, 1:00 am, the Fitz reports that winds are at 52 knots, with waves ten feet in height. 7:00 am, winds at 35 knots, waves ten feet high. The last weather report the fitz will ever make. Anderson, captain of the S.S. Arthur M, (the ship accompanying the fitz) watches the fitz round Caribou Island and comments that the fitz is much closer to Six Fathom Shoal than he would want to be. 3:20 pm Anderson reports winds coming from the northwest at 43 knots. 'The roughest weather I've been in' was one of the captain's transmissions. At 7:10 pm, the fitz put out its final transmission to the Arthur. "We are holding our own." Arthur replies: "Okay, fine. I'll be talking to you later." They never did talk later. The 29 men onboard the Fitzgerald will never again speak with anyone outside of the ship. It is estimated that between 7:20 pm and 7:30 pm is when the Fitz went down. The Fitzgerald foundered only 17 miles from whitefish bay, the safe haven from the storm. The official cause of the sinking of the Fitzgerald was "Ineffective cargo hatch closures." The Edmund Fitzgerald was found in 530 feet of water in 1976, using the U.S. Navy Curv 3 system. The wreckage consisted of an upright bow section, approximately 275 feet long, and an inverted stern section, about 253 feet long, and a debris field comprised of the rest of the hull in between. Both sections were within 170 feet of each other.

Only one thing was brought up from the wreckage, by the request of the family members of the crew of the Fitz. The bell. Fitzgerald's 200 lb. bronze bell was recovered by the Great Lakes Shipwreck historical society on July 4, 1995. The bell is now on display in the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum as a memorial to her lost crew.