The Edmund Fitzgerald - Forty Years Later
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Thread: The Edmund Fitzgerald - Forty Years Later

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    Senior Member JustPassinThru's Avatar
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    The Edmund Fitzgerald - Forty Years Later



    This has haunted me, for forty years. A neighbor of ours went down on that ship.

    Later, I was annoyed of the blithe triviality that the Gordon Lighfoot dirge offered.

    But here we are...forty years later.

    I grew up on one area where several Fitzgerald sailors came from. Later I lived in Fairport Harbor, Ohio; another home to more of them.

    Later, I lived in Superior, Wisconsin - where the ugly drama acted out.


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    Senior Member joeband's Avatar
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    i was outside the museum in duluth once, but it was closed. sad history, hard working men lost due to greed, arrogance and misjudgment of others.
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    Senior Member JustPassinThru's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeband View Post
    i was outside the museum in duluth once, but it was closed. sad history, hard working men lost due to greed, arrogance and misjudgment of others.
    Disagree. It was a series of misjudgments.

    Covers not properly placed. Captain on his VERY LAST run...his head was elsewhere. Water leaking in. And then a freak set of waves, sends the bow of the Fitzherald into the mud at the bottom.

    Greed? No.
    Last edited by JustPassinThru; 10-22-2015 at 10:50 AM.
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    Junior Member jkfritz3's Avatar
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    One of the best rides I have ever taken is on the north shore of Lake Superior. Don't miss Split Rock lighthouse either.


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    Senior Member Hoot Gibson's Avatar
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    The Wreck of the Ed was big news in Ohio and all of the Great Lakes....and that song kept it in the limelight.....even today, the Edmund Fitz is not forgotten....and I took a look in my Fridge when I saw the thread....some of the Best Porter Beer around is made by Great Lakes Brewing Company out of Cleveland and they named it properly:

    Ed Fitz Porter 003.JPG

    Good Stuff, think I'll pour one right now
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    Senior Member old mad max's Avatar
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    We were up in Da-yooper and they have an ore carrier there, "valley camp maybe " ??????????????They had a verrrrry badly twisted up life boat from that horrible night..What power to bent it that much.............. OMM.
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    Senior Member PlacerLode's Avatar
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    Gordon spoke of this during his 2014 tour and said he actually changed the original lyrics due to complaints from family members claiming the song placed blame on the sailors but the facts have since backed up the unsecured hatch cover theory originally referenced in the song. Still one of my favorite songs of all time and I have no idea why this particular wreck strikes my curiosity like no other, Freeking awesome to hear GL sing it live !!!

    Love that video of the Edmund Fitzgerald's launch !!!
    Last edited by PlacerLode; 10-26-2015 at 10:44 PM.
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    Senior Member phelonius's Avatar
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    I once read that she scraped bottom aground going over a shallow spot just before the sinking. It is possible she was taking on water before the final disaster.
    With the violence of the storm it might not have been noticed. I used to do inside hull inspections on those big lake carriers sometime going inside the double hulls.
    If the outer hull were breached the void space between hulls could hold a great deal of water that might go un-noticed in the violence of a storm. This could have the vessel sitting lower in the water and more vulnerable to the stresses of huge seas.
    Phelonius

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    Senior Member JustPassinThru's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phelonius View Post
    I once read that she scraped bottom aground going over a shallow spot just before the sinking. It is possible she was taking on water before the final disaster.
    With the violence of the storm it might not have been noticed. I used to do inside hull inspections on those big lake carriers sometime going inside the double hulls.
    If the outer hull were breached the void space between hulls could hold a great deal of water that might go un-noticed in the violence of a storm. This could have the vessel sitting lower in the water and more vulnerable to the stresses of huge seas.
    That's the current thinking - and the most likely. When disasters happen, it's usually not ONE element but a SERIES of missteps. In this case, I seem to remember that either their charts were inaccurate or they had incorrectly reckoned their position and were known to have gone over a known shoal. The Fitz was loaded to the max and the lake surface was heaving. AND, they were taking on water from leaking hatches or vents.

    In relative calm, a grounding would have been felt. And - I don't know what the routine is on Great Lakes ore carriers, but in the Navy we used to have various watches do surveys to check for any compromise in the hull. Certainly that is done on ocean ships, especially after an unusual sensation or possible strike. But if the crew were already busy at watches and working pumping operations to keep the hatch-leaks pumped out, they may not have done it or done it thorough enough.

    So, now the pumps cannot keep up with the breach. The ship may well have been a goner anyway, but with the heavy swells, nobody yet understands that.

    In comes a series of rogue waves; sending the bow under the surface. That's bad but not unknown in storms. What WAS not known was the added weight of the water taken on from the hull breach. The bow goes under and just stays under. Stresses snap the hull at the point where the hull was breaches - perhaps the keel was damaged. The stern twists in the the stress, and the two pieces go down. The bow just noses into the mud; the stern turns turtle and rests upside down.

    The storm was a factor. The hatch covers another factor. The loss of radar a third factor and the grounding, what did it. Had they grounded in calm water it would not have been as violent; the hull breach seen right away; and there would have been time to either get the Fitz into shallow water where it could rest on the bottom and be patched or at least to evacuate the crew.
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    Senior Member RobG's Avatar
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    It's a shame people are so thin-skinned as to complain about everything, even a tribute song. I'm a big fan of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, and like PlacerLoad, it's been a fascination of mine as well.
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