November 10, 2015

11 Historical Photos of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald

If you've lived near the Great Lakes long enough, you've heard the legend of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald.

Old Fitz was an ore-carrying ship built in 1957 by Cleveland company Oglebay Norton, its president giving Edmund Fitz its namesake. The ship sailed for nearly 20 years and was heralded as the "Titanic of the Great Lakes." Unfortunately, in 1975, it met a similar fate.

Captain Ernest McSorley was leading Edmund Fitzgerald on November 10, 1975 as it made its way toward Detroit on Lake Superior with the S.S. Arthur M. Anderson. When a storm struck the two craft, McSorley stayed in contact with Anderson through his radio, telling its crew that these were the "worst seas" he had ever seen.

As the storm raged on, McSorley reported frequently with Anderson that the ship was "holding its own," though it had lost its fencing. Just moments after letting its sister ship know it was fairing fine, Edmund Fitzgerald sank, killing all 29 men aboard.

Since many theories have circulated on what exactly caused Big Fitz to go down. Some credit a rogue wave that unexpected hit the ship, while other spread rumors of structural failure and ineffective crew members.

Today, the wreck sits at the bottom of Superior with little having been recovered. What does exist onshore is scattered across museums throughout the country and include Fitz's bell, anchor and rescue boats.

By Brittany Rees

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The S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald as it stood in 1957. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
The S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald as it stood in 1957. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Big Fitz in 1975. Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user Don Harrison
Big Fitz in 1975. Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user Don Harrison
The S.S. Arthur M. Anderson which communicated with Fitz until it sunk. Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user Tony Failo
The S.S. Arthur M. Anderson which communicated with Fitz until it sunk. Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user Tony Failo
Wrecked life boats from Edmund Fitzgerald. Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user xray10
Wrecked life boats from Edmund Fitzgerald. Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user xray10
Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user xray10
Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user xray10
The route Edmund Fitz took n November 10, as displayed by the Split Rock Lighthouse Museum. Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user Jasperdo
The route Edmund Fitz took n November 10, as displayed by the Split Rock Lighthouse Museum. Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user Jasperdo
Fitz's bell is now engraved the names of all 29 men who lost their lives during the wreck. Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user AI
Fitz's bell is now engraved the names of all 29 men who lost their lives during the wreck. Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user AI
The ship's anchor. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
The ship's anchor. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Great Lakes Brewing Company has since released its Edmund Fitgerald porter is memory of our sunken treasure. Photo courtesy of 
Flickr Creative Commons user elh70
Great Lakes Brewing Company has since released its Edmund Fitgerald porter is memory of our sunken treasure. Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user elh70
The relative position of how Edmund Fitzgerald split and sank. Courtesy of Wikipedia
The relative position of how Edmund Fitzgerald split and sank. Courtesy of Wikipedia