gordon lightfoot

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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.

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“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by The Rheostatics (Gordon Lightfoot cover)

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
And later that night when the ship’s bell rang
Could it be the north wind they’d been feelin’?

Even if you hate this song, you owe it to yourself to listen to this progressive re-imagining by one of Canada’s greatest bands.

Friday Night Canadian Invasion

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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.