gitche gumee

The Mystery of Gitche Gumee


               Image Credit: Brandy Green “The Rocky Shores of Gitche Gumee”

The maximum depth of Loch Ness in Scotland is less than 800 feet and its average temperature is around 40 degrees. Lake Superior’s maximum depth is over 1,300 feet and its average temperature is just under 40 degrees…


                       Image Credit: Brandy Green “Roots: Gooseberry Falls”

Minnesota contains rock formations just shy of 3 billion years old and was once covered by tropical seas containing gigantic prehistoric crocodiles and sharks, as well as other creatures like duck billed dinosaurs.

The Sudan Mine in Minnesota contains ancient waters that are like no other place on earth and the origins of the water source are still a mystery. Scientists believe that it is seeping in from an ancient sea. This water contains microbes not previously discovered.


                                            Image Credit: WCCO

For centuries, natives performed rituals in an attempt to appease the water god(s) known as Mishepishu or the “Water Panther”. It was believed that these creatures ruled over their aquatic domain in opposition to the Thunderbirds of the skies. For some natives, Mishepishu were evil water spirits that destroyed anyone crossing their domains. For others, Mishepishu were guardians who could be protectors and coerced into allowing land dwellers safe passage if the proper prayers and offerings were practiced prior to the journey.


                                      Image Credit:

Ancient stories of the lynx describe it as a being of great proportions; part panther, a back covered in scaled spine, and razor sharp teeth vibrating from its horrendous roaring hiss. It is believed by some tribes, including the Ojibwe that the great water panther was the most powerful of all underwater creatures and the one controlling force of the underworld.

Today, fishermen are catching Lake Sturgeons in this area that are weighing in at more than a thousand pounds, taking nearly a dozen people just to lift the fish from the great waters…


                                       Image Credit:

Do you believe in Mishepishu, the great and powerful ruler of the waters?

The first time I remember hearing this song I was a little boy. I’m fairly confident that it was ON or shortly after the 10 year anniversary of the sinking of the ship, so late 1985. I know for a fact that the night I first heard the song Richmond suffered a violent fall storm and the power was out for awhile and my dad had to go outside in the middle of the storm because our house was taking on water and that night after he cleaned up he played this song for me and told me all about it. Yanno, he broke it down so a 4 year old could understand.

So this song has always been epic to me. 

!Gitche Gumee!

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

32 years ago…

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy.

With a load of iron ore – 26,000 tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty
That big ship and crew was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early

The ship was the pride of the American side
Coming back from some mill in Wisconson
As the big freighters go it was bigger than most
With a crew and good Captain well seasoned.

Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
When they left fully loaded for Cleveland
And later that night when the ships bell rang
Could it be the North Wind they’d been feeling.

The wind in the wires made a tattletale sound
And a wave broke over the railing
And every man knew, as the Captain did, too,
T’was the witch of November come stealing.

The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
When the gales of November came slashing
When afternoon came it was freezing rain
In the face of a hurricane West Wind

When suppertime came the old cook came on deck
Saying, “Fellows it’s too rough to feed ya”
At 7PM a main hatchway caved in
He said, “Fellas it’s been good to know ya.”

The Captain wired in he had water coming in
And the good ship and crew was in peril
And later that night when his lights went out of sight
Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Does anyone know where the love of God goes
When the waves turn the minutes to hours
The searchers all say they’d have made Whitefish Bay
If they’d fifteen more miles behind her.

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.

Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
In the ruins of her ice water mansion
Old Michigan steams like a young man’s dreams,
The islands and bays are for sportsmen.

And farther below Lake Ontario
Takes in what Lake Erie can send her
And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
With the gales of November remembered.

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed
In the Maritime Sailors’ Cathedral
The church bell chimed, ’til it rang 29 times
For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
Superior, they say, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early.