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SS Edmund Fitzgerald, 40 Years on, Hasn't Sunk From Memory

Image: SS Edmund Fitzgerald, 40 Years on, Hasn't Sunk From Memory
"The Wreck Site II" by David Conklin shows the SS Edmund Fitzgerald on the bottom of Lake Superior. (Shipwreck Coast Museum Store)

By    |   Wednesday, 11 Nov 2015 08:15 AM

The SS Edmund Fitzgerald's 40th sinking anniversary was commemorated on Tuesday with the announcement of a documentary about the hulking cargo vessel, which has lived on in Gordon Lightfoot's hit song about it:

"They might have split up or they might have capsized
They may have broke deep and took water
And all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the wives and the sons and the daughters..."

On Nov. 10, 1975, the Edmund Fitzgerald, one of largest cargo ships on the Great Lakes, sank in the middle of a storm on Lake Superior, killing 29 men, noted MLive.com. Chris Gillcrist, executive director of the National Museum of the Great Lakes, told Michigan Radio that the Edmund Fitzgerald was the largest American vessel in the Great Lakes when it was built in 1958.

"There are 17 years of history before the Fitzgerald sank and 40 years after it sank of impact on friends, family, and the maritime community," said Gillcrist. "We created a documentary that doesn't talk about the loss of the boat, but really concentrates on the lives of all those who were impacted over that time period by the boat and their service on the boat."

The title of the film, "A Good Ship and Crew Well Seasoned," is a play on a line from Gordon Lightfoot's song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." Lightfoot recorded the song a month after the tragedy and it was released in August 1976, said MLive.com.

The song would eventually reach No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and No. 1 on the Cashbox and RPM singles survey in Canada.

AccuWeather's Jesse Ferrell said at the time of the Edmund Fitzgerald's sinking, it was the deadliest accident of its kind.

"Post-analysis weather research showed that the strong low pressure system caused winds to 48 knots (55 mph) produced waves of over 25 feet that night, at the location where it went down," said Ferrell.

"That's about as big as waves theoretically can get on the lake, according to the (National Weather Service), though (Space Science and Engineering Center at the University of Wisconsin) disagrees. In any case, there could be rogue waves twice that height, and it's not out of the question that one of those could have sank the Edmund Fitzgerald," he said.

Ed Perrine, an author who once served on the Edmund Fitzgerald, told Michigan Radio that he hoped the documentary will give the public a better understanding of sailing and the importance of the Great Lakes.


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The SS Edmund Fitzgerald's 40th sinking anniversary was commemorated on Tuesday with the announcement of a documentary about the hulking cargo vessel, which has lived on in Gordon Lightfoot's hit song about it.
ss edmund fitzgerald, sunk, memory
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2015-15-11
Wednesday, 11 Nov 2015 08:15 AM
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