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The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald


This photo was taken in May 1975 along the Saint Mary's River.
by: Bob Campbell

At the time it was launched in 1958, the 729-foot long, 75-foot wide freighter S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald was the largest ship to ply the Great Lakes. On November 10, 1975 the Fitzgerald left Superior, Wisconsin carrying 26,000 tons of iron ore pellets, bound for Detroit. Though the day was bright, in her path lay a terrible storm with 60 MPH winds and waves in excess of 15 feet. As the storm built, her experienced Captain Ernest McSorley bore north across Lake Superior, seeking the relative shelter of the Canadian shore and Whitefish Bay.

Luck was not with the ship or the crew. The radar system and its backup failed. The storm took out the power to Whitefish Point's light and radio beacon. Though the light was brought back on line, the radio beacon was not. The Arthur M. Anderson, another ship within 10 miles of the Fitzgerald, received reports that the ship was listing to the starboard and of other structural damages to the vessel. At 7:10 PM, Captain McSorley delivered what was to be his final message:
"We're holding our own."
The Arthur M. Anderson lost the Fitzgerald's image on its radar screensat 7:25 PM. The ship and crew of 29 men, sank to the bottom of Lake Superior.

Several expeditions have been mounted to the wreck and have been the subject of some controversy. On July 4th, 1995 the ship's bell and stanchion were recovered from where they lay beneath 550 feet of Lake Superior. A replica of the bell, graven with the names of the crew, was left in its place. The bell was presented to the relatives of the crew and rung thirty times -- once for each member of the crew and a final time in honor of all those who have lost their lives at sea. The bell was given to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point to serve as a memorial to the ship and crew. (text taken from

The tragic story of the Edmund Fitzgerald is remembered through Gordon Lightfoot's ballad "The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald", which appears on the album "Summertime Dream" and numerous other compilations.

Read the song's lyrics: Lyrics to the song Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald

Listen to midi-versions of the song:

Links to other websites about the Edmund Fitzgerald:

The Gordon Lightfoot - Tribute page:
A line-by-line explanation of the song, "The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald"
posted by SirFlyalot

Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum
A very nice website that includes lots of information on the ship and the recovery of the bell. Also features an online-shop where you can buy books and videos about the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The Sinking Of The Edmund Fitzgerald
A very nice website that offers a few unique features:
You can hear the captain of the Arthur M. Anderson reporting the suspected loss to the Coast Guard that night

Significant Events in the History of the Edmund Fitzgerald 
A wonderful website listing all important events starting from 1957 up to present. Compiled by Tony Wesley, don't miss this one.

Restoration of the Edmund Fitzgerald's bell
After twenty years at the bottom of Lake Superior, the bell of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald was brought to Michigan State University for restoration. At this website you can read about how the restoration of the bell was done, including a photo chronology of the restoration.

Nautical Works
Nautical Works offers a wide range of artwork of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald, videos and books. 

The Edmund Fitzgerald Interactive Explorer
This CD-ROM contains underwater footage of the shipwreck, interviews with investigators and former crew, and the actual radio communications between the U.S. Coast Guard and the last ship to see the Edmund Fitzgerald. See the different theories animated, to show you what might of happened, along with video of her construction and launch. It is all there, plus so much more!

Last Photo taken at Great Lakes Steel
She is shown here unloading at Great Lakes Steel on Zug Island - in a photograph which has been documented as the last photograph ever taken of "The Fitz" before her untimely loss on Lake Superior,  Detroit River October 26, 1975
From the 1993 Calendar featuring photographs by Paul C. LaMarre, Jr. 

Marine Publishing Co., Inc.
Great selection of books about famous shipwrecks, including some titles about the Edmund Fitzgerald

Marine Historical Society of Detroit's Ahoy & Farewell II
A preview of the book giving facts about the history of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Picture Gallery Of the Edmund Fitzgerald
a couple of pictures

Jim Clary Originals and Collector Prints
Jim Clary has realized his boyhood dream of bringing "ghost" ships to life through art. He is a man who made himself, who thrives on art, and who thrives on the notion that others will enjoy and learn from his work for years to come. 

The Edmund Fitzgerald  
Mary Wilhelm, daughter of Blaine Wilhelm, Oiler on the Fitzgerald

Great Lakes Maritime Institute
The Great Lakes Maritime Institute, Inc. promotes interest in the Great Lakes and preserves items related to their history. Their publication "Telescope" also deals with the Edmund Fitzgerald

Edmund Fitzgerald History
From the Marine Historical Society of Detroit's Great Lakes Ships
We Remember volume I

The sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald - November 10, 1975
A very interesting page that shows weather tables and explains how the lyrics match the actual facts. 

November Winds, a poem by Joe Haas
Joe Haas has done a poem about the November Winds and the Edmund Fitzgerald

The Edmund Fitzgerald
A website that lists technical details about the Edmund Fitzgerald

Press Articles:

November 11, 1999
by Brian Albrecht, Plain Dealer Reporter
Lectures to discuss Edmund Fitzgerald 
read article

July 19, 1999
Families, mariners bid farewell to S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald crew 
read article

July 17, 1999
Detroit Free Press
Families of Edmund Fitz
gerald crewmen will travel to site of disaster, by Ira Porter
read article

November 19th, 1995
The Detroit News by John Flesher
Memorial at the Great Lakes Maritime Academy
read article

November 10th, 1995
The Detroit News
Business Wire Features, Video documentary details sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald read article

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