World Facts

The Edmund Fitzgerald: The Mystery and the Legacy of the Great Lakes’ Most Famous Shipwreck

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“Dive into the depths of history with ‘The Edmund Fitzgerald: Unraveling the Mystery and Honoring the Legacy of the Great Lakes’ Most Famous Shipwreck. Explore the captivating story, tragedy, and enduring legacy of this iconic maritime tale/PHOTO COURTESY: Instagram

The Edmund Fitzgerald was a massive ore carrier that vanished in a winter storm on Lake Superior in 1975, killing all 29 crew members.

The song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot commemorates this tragic event and its legacy.

In this article, we will explore the following questions of:

Has the Edmund Fitzgerald ever been found?

What caused Edmund Fitzgerald to sink?

What makes Edmund Fitzgerald so special?

Has the Edmund Fitzgerald ever been found?

The Edmund Fitzgerald has been found, but not intact.

The ship was located in deep water on November 14, 1975, by a U.S. Navy aircraft detecting magnetic anomalies, and found soon afterward to be in two large pieces.

The bow section was upright and relatively intact, while the stern section was inverted and severely damaged.

The two sections were about 170 feet (52 meters) apart, and the debris field covered an area of about 10 acres (4 hectares)

Several expeditions have been conducted to explore and document the wreck site, using underwater cameras, sonar, and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).

The first expedition was led by Jean-Michel Cousteau, the son of the famous ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, in 19763.

The most recent expedition was led by the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS) in 2010.

Expeditions have revealed various details and artifacts of the ship, such as:

  1. The wheelhouse
  2. The lifeboats
  3. Bell
  4. The hatch covers
  5. Cargo of taconite pellets

The wreck site is considered to be a grave and a memorial for the lost crew members and is protected by both U.S. and Canadian laws.

Diving and salvage operations are prohibited without permission from the authorities and the families of the victims.

The only artifact that has been recovered and displayed is the ship’s bell, which was replaced by a replica in 1995.

The original bell is now exhibited at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point, Michigan, where it is rung every year on November 10 to honor the crew.

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What caused Edmund Fitzgerald to sink?

The exact cause of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald remains unknown and controversial.

Various theories and hypotheses have been proposed over the years.

Based on the available evidence and testimonies.

Some of the most common and plausible theories are:

The ship was hit by a rogue wave, also known as a “three sisters” wave, which was a series of three consecutive waves of unusually high height and steepness.

The wave may have caused the ship to pitch and roll violently, breaking the hull and flooding the cargo hold.

The ship suffered structural failure due to fatigue and stress from the heavy load and the rough seas.

may have cracked along the keel or the hatch coamings, allowing water to enter and sink the ship.

The ship was damaged by grounding on a shoal near Caribou Island, which was reported by the captain of the Arthur M. Anderson

The nearby ship that was in radio contact with the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The grounding may have caused the hull to rupture and leak, or the propeller to malfunction and lose power.

It was affected by human error or negligence, such as improper loading, inadequate maintenance, faulty equipment, or poor decision-making.

The ship may have been overloaded, unbalanced, or poorly secured, leading to instability and vulnerability.

The ship may have also lacked adequate safety measures, such as watertight bulkheads, life rafts, or emergency beacons.

None of these theories have been conclusively proven or disproven, and the debate continues among experts and enthusiasts.

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What makes Edmund Fitzgerald so special?

The Edmund Fitzgerald was a special ship for many reasons.

First of all, it was the largest ship on the Great Lakes when it was launched in 1958, measuring 729 feet (222 meters) long and weighing more than 13,600 tons.

In addition, it was one of the fastest and most efficient ships, capable of carrying up to 26,000 tons of cargo at a speed of 14 knots (26 km/h).

Furthermore, the Edmund Fitzgerald was a popular and beloved ship, attracting attention and admiration from boat watchers and enthusiasts.

Finally, the ship also had a catchy nickname, “the Big Fitz” or “the Mighty Fitz”.

The Edmund Fitzgerald was a legendary and iconic ship, inspiring songs, books, documentaries, and artworks.

The most famous tribute to the ship is the song:

“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot, was released in 1976 and became a hit.

The song tells the story of the ship and its crew and captures the emotion and the mystery of the tragedy.

The song has been covered by many artists and has been featured in many media.

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