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Old 11-11-2005, 03:31 PM   #1
seafarer62
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My wife and I just returned from the November 10 ceremony at Split Rock Lighthouse, about 50 miles north of Duluth, MN. Every November 10, they have a ceremony and fire up the old lighthouse to show how the lighthouse once warned mariners of the craggy shoreline.

This year was special with the 30th anniversary of the Edmund Fitzgerald. There were probably over 500 people around for the ceremony. The names of the 29 men from the Fitzgerald were read and a bell tolled in their honor. It was a beautiful evening with hardly any wind, a bright moon in the east and the planet Mars flaming red right over the lake. What a sight.

The Minnesota Historical Society allowed people to go up into the lighthouse as it slowly turned to learn more about the history of shipping over the past 100 years. They said November 2005 is also the 100 year anniversary of severe storms in 1905 that prompted the building of the Lighthouse in 1909.

The light was lit for only about 3 hours and is the only day of the year they do so. The lighthouse has long since been made obsolete with GPS and satellite technology but Split Rock is a link to the Fitzgerald as she regularly hauled taconite iron ore from nearby Two Harbors, MN to the steel mills of the east. Undoubtedly, the Fitz was guided by this lighthouse many times.

Anyone listening to WCCO-radio 830AM in the Minneapolis/St.Paul on Sunday morning Nov. 13 between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. (CDT) will hear the morning announcers play clips from the song and tell the audience a little about the story of the sinking of the Fitzgerald. I think their website is www.wccoradio.com and you can listen to it over the internet on radio streaming. I know the announcer, and he will also be mentioning Gordon's upcoming birthday.

John/North Branch, MN
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Old 11-11-2005, 03:44 PM   #2
Molly
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Pictures? I tried to listen to the web's show from Michigan last night and couldn't get it to work.
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Old 11-11-2005, 06:41 PM   #3
mnmouse
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John,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and recollections...it was indeed a beautiful day on the lake yesterday.

A few thoughts of my own:

The drive along the lake shore from Duluth was beautiful, with the sun sparkling on the sky blue water, and Gord's tunes playing in the car. Skies were clear, the air was cool. It was hard to imagine the violence of the storm that hit the Fitz with such fury on this same date all those years ago.

Once at Split Rock, there was a film about the Wreck of the Fitz, with recollections from captains who sailed the lake and theories as to why she went down quickly. (They even mentioned "Lightfoot's ballad" in the film.)

We spent a lot of time outside, walking the grounds and the lake shore, and looking out on the lake from the lighthouse itself.

When they read the muster of the last watch of the Edmund Fitzgerald to the tolling of the ship's bell, the crowd was silent and respectful as we all comtemplated what was lost. I was thankful to be able to experience that with the breeze coming in off the lake, and the lighthouse watching from it's rocky cliff.

Immediately after the last bell rang out, the light was lit. We walked down to, and along, the lake shore as the sun went down. Once down on the shore, we watched the lighthouse shining out into the darkness while listening to the waves lap the rocks. Breath-taking.

On the way back to Duluth, Gord's music was once again playing softly in the car, and we could see a large iron-ore boat, her decks all lit up, riding smoothly on the moon-lit lake. Away off in the distance we could see the lights of Duluth waiting to welcome her to the harbor. A perfect end to the day!!

There is something about a lake this large that stirs the depths of a person's soul. To see her immense beauty and know, at the same time, the immense power she possesses, to understand the treasures and the dangers that she holds...to ride her waves, and look out and see nothing but water on every horizon...that is something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.
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