Edmund Fitzgerald

So I had a thought about Necromancers...

Usually, one thinks of the opposite or natural foe of a Necromancer as being some sort of white mage or cleric (or sometimes paladin).

But what if the natural enemy of the Necromancer is the Bard?

In combat there’s no contest, but the secret of bards is they weave the big magic, they weave the story-magic and the song-spell. And when a dwarven mine collapses or a dragon scours a city or the Edmund Fitzgerald wrecks in a storm there’s a bard there to weave a mournful folk-song about the event. 

The bard’s song or tale memorializes the lost but it also binds the event into a tale, the wild chaos of life and death tamed by the structure of narrative and verse. All sealed with an ending and reinforced by the retelling. 

And when the Necromancer pulls forth his scepter of bone and calls to the souls of the lost to rise in his service, he receives no answer. The dead do not rise because that’s not how the story ends. Too many people have heard it. Too many voices have sung it. The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead


The Edmund Fitzgerald Remembered

40 years ago, on November 10, 1975, the cargo ship Edmund Fitzgerald sank during a storm in Lake Superior near Whitefish Point off the coast of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. There are several theories as to what may have caused the ship to sink in a flash, but the actual reason will likely never be known. The remains of the 29 crew members were never recovered.


38 Years Ago Today — The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald,

At over 700 feet long and with a dead weight tonnage of 26,000, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald was the largest freighter of the Great Lakes in the 1960’s and 70’s.  However the Edmund Fitzgerald would go down in history as a doomed ship, its fate foreshadowed when it took three blows to break a champagne bottle on her bow at her christening.  From 1958 to 1975 the Edmund Fitzgerald hauled talconite ore from mines in Duluth, Minnesota to iron and steel mills in Detroit, Toledo, Buffalo, and other Great Lakes ports.

On November 9th, 1975, the Edmund Fitzgerald set off on a run from Superior, Wisconsin to a steel mill in Detroit.   The next day the Edmund Fitzgerald was caught in one of the worst storms in Great Lakes history, with waves over 35 feet high and hurricane force winds.  At 3:30 PM the Fitzgerald reported that it had sustained topside damage and was heading for safe port in Whitefish Bay, Canada.  40 minutes later the Fitzgerald requested radar assistance from a nearby ship, the Anderson, as she had lost radar capability.  By 6:00 PM the Fitzgerald reported,“"I have a bad list, lost both radars. And am taking heavy seas over the deck. One of the worst seas I’ve ever been in.” The Anderson continued to guide the Fitzgerald into Whitefish Bay, until it was itself struck by a large wave and force to seek safe harbor.  At 7:00 PM the Fitzgerald made sent its last radio signal reporting, “we are holding our own.”  By 7:30 the Fitzgerald had disappeared from radar screens and no longer responded to radio calls.

The Edmund Fitzgerald took all 29 crew with her, leaving nothing behind but an oil slick and some assorted pieces of wreckage.  Four days later the wreck was located 530 ft below Lake Superior.  She was only 15 Nautical Miles from Whitefish Bay and safety.  Over the coming decades the wreck has been studied and surveyed, with numerous theories offered as to the reason for its sinking.  The most prominent feature of the wreck is the fact that it had been ripped in half, either before of after its sinking.  It is often suggested that the Fitzgerald was overloaded, causing large waves to create stress fractures on the Fitzgerald’s hull.  Numerous other factors are to blame for the Fitzgerald’s sinking.  

After the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald the Mariners Church in Detroit started the tradition of wringing its bells 29 times, in honor of the 29 dead crewmen.  They are as follows,

McSorley, Ernest M. Master

McCarthy, John H. 1st Mate

Pratt, James A. 2nd Mate

Armagost, Michael E. 3rd Mate

Holl, George J. Chief Engineer

Bindon, Edward F. 1st Asst. Engineer

Edwards, Thomas E 2nd Asst. Engineer

Haskell, Russell G. 2nd Asst. Engineer

Champeau, Oliver J. 3rd Asst. Engineer

Beetcher, Frederick J. Porter

Bentsen, Thomas Oiler

Borgeson, Thomas D. AB Maint. Man

Church, Nolan F. Porter

Cundy, Ransom E. Watchman

Hudson, Bruce L. Deckhand

Kalmon, Allen G. 2nd Cook

MacLellan, Gordon F. Wiper

Mazes, Joseph W. Spec. Maint. Man

O'Brien, Eugene W. Wheelsman

Peckol, Karl A. Watchman

Poviach, John J. Wheelsman

Rafferty, Robert C. Steward

Riippa, Paul M Deckhand

Simmons, John D. Wheelsman

Spengler, William J Watchman

Thomas, Mark A Deckhand

Walton, Ralph G. Oiler

Weiss, David E. Cadet (Deck)

Wilhelm, Blaine H. Oiler


On 10 Nov. 1975, the largest ship on the Great Lakes, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank.

The ship left Superior, WI on the afternoon of 9 November and was heading toward a steel mill near Detroit, MI, when it was caught in a severe storm the next day, with near-hurricane force winds and waves of 35 feet.

Shortly after 7 pm, the ship sank about 17 miles from the entrance to Whitefish Bay (near Sault Ste. Marie, MI). No distress signals were sent, and all 29 crew members were lost.

Gordon Lightfoot read about the disaster in the 24 Nov. 1975 issue of Newsweek magazine and was inspired to write a song based on the events. “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” was released a year later on 20 Nov. 1976.

November 10, 1975:  The 729-foot-long freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald sinks during a storm on Lake Superior, killing all 29 crew on board.  Launched on June 7, 1958, she was the largest ship on the Great Lakes, and remains the largest to have sunk there.

Gordon Lightfoot made it the subject of his 1976 hit song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” after reading an article, “The Cruelest Month”, in the November 24, 1975, issue of Newsweek. The sinking led to changes in Great Lakes shipping regulations and practices that included mandatory survival suits, depth finders, positioning systems, increased freeboard, and more frequent inspection of vessels. (wikipedia)


Photo: Edmund Fitzgerald, 1971 (Wikimedia Commons)


The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot


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 twenty-six thousand tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty
That good ship and true 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 Wisconsin
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
Then later that night when the ship's bell rang
Could it be the north wind they'd been feelin'?

The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
When the wave broke over the railing
And every man knew, as the captain did too
'Twas the witch of November come stealin'
The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
When the gales of November came slashin'
When afternoon came it was freezing rain
In the face of a hurricane west wind

When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck
Sayin' "Fellas, it's too rough to feed ya"
At seven PM a main hatchway caved in
He said, "Fellas, it's been good to know ya"
The captain wired in he had water comin' 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 put 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 rooms 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 twenty-nine 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 said, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early
The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
Gordon Lightfoot
The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald


Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot

Here’s a blast from the bast! This was in one of my 3rd grade music class books. My whole class had to sing it, I figured it was just some song some school company wrote. Well, it was good back then, and it’s good now. 

This song always gives me chills.
"Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
in the rooms 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 twenty-nine times for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald. The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down of the big lake they call "Gitchee Gumee." "Superior," they said, "never gives up her dead when the gales of November come early!"

-- "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", Gordon Lightfoot

Guess that means I'll have to take a trip to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum now.
So much power, nature has...
"The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" - Gordon Lightfoot (HD w/ Lyrics) - YouTube

Just watched a documentary on the Edmund Fitzgerald so that I can feed my fears of dying should I ever find myself on the Great Lakes aboard a cargo ship during a November Witch. Of course, since that scenario will never happen because when in the hell would I ever be on a cargo ship in the middle of Lake Superior, I’ll just transfer this fear to my July Disney cruise to Alaska. Yep. That’s just how my plethora of phobias roll. #noroguewavesplease

Apparently, it’s really gichigami, but I’ve always loved the words Gitche Gumee. I could listen to Gordon Lightfoot say those two words over and over for the rest of my life.