Thursday, November 12, 2015

Better late than never

Tuesday was a big day for anniversaries, and I ignored one in favor of the Marines' 240th birthday. Nov. 10 also was the 40th anniversary of the sinking in Lake Superior of the ore carrier Edmund Fitzgerald, made famous in the song by Gordon Lightfoot. As Rick Moran points out over at PJ Tatler, if not for Lightfoot's song, one of the most significant maritime disasters of the second half of the 20th century might have gone largely unremarked, at least in this country:
 The “Big Fitz” – for a long time the largest ship ever to ply the freight routes around the Great Lakes – was carrying taconite pellets with enough iron ore in them to build more than 4,000 cars. That point alone is something of a head-turner and an index of just how huge this ship was. Add to that the fury of the Great Lakes gale, as bad as all but the most massive of oceanic cyclones, and the mystery of the cause of the wreck and you have what ought to have been the makings of a great news story. Yet except for regional coverage in newspapers in Lakes-related cities and a brief note on some of the evening network newscasts, the “Edmund Fitzgerald” sank into anonymity as it slipped beneath the 35 or 40 foot waves on that awful night.
Moran discusses the issue more from the perspective of how Lightfoot brought the sinking the  attention it deserved. There is a website dedicated to the Edmund Fitzgerald that provides all sorts of information on the ship, its crew, its service on the Great Lakes, its sinking and theories about the cause. It makes for interesting reading. It's good to see the 29 crew lost with the ship are remembered.

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