Forty-Three Years Ago Today, A Great Lake Took Down a Great Ship…

As some of my most die-hard blog followers already know, one of my favorite vacation pastimes is freighter watching. I can’t explain why it’s so exciting to me to see a freighter chugging through the Great Lakes. It just is!


Freighter spotting from May, 2018 in Lake Huron, south of Cheboygan, MI

Every time I see a freighter, I can’t help but think of THE freighter. I’m talking, of course, about the Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank 43 years ago today, killing all 29 crew members. She was carrying iron ore and was making a voyage from Superior, WI (near Duluth) to Detroit, MI (despite what the lyrics in the Gordon Lightfoot song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald tell you).

Though the song’s lyrics might not be entirely accurate, it might be worth giving a listen to it today (just in case they ask about it in a trivia game, if nothing else, LOL). I think of it as a modern-day sea shanty. If you live in Michigan, you can pretty much claim this tragedy as your own stateside tragedy (who cares if the ship actually sunk in Canadian waters). The ship was heading to Detroit – and if that’s not enough of an excuse to claim it as a “Pure Michigan” tragedy, I don’t know what is!


Scale model of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Her 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. Does anyone else think it’s weird that we commonly refer to ships as “shes” even if they have male names? Jussayn!

A great place to visit if you really want to get up close and personal with freighters is Sault Ste. Marie, MI. There, you can view freighters and other vessels as they traverse the Soo Locks. I pretty much turn into an 8-year-old boy whenever I visit this place!


Up-close view of freighter in Soo Locks in August, 2016. If we got any closer of a shot of this, you’d be able to see its nostrils (LOL)! If you’re worried you’ll get too overstimulated looking at these HUGE ships, there are plenty of bars nearby!

I wanted to do a more detailed blog about this great tragedy, but I am heading out of town in just a couple of clicks! Feel free to explore this fascinating topic on your own! Did you know the Edmund Fitzgerald was actually quite luxuriously appointed as far as freighters go? Shag carpeting, furnishings from Hudson’s, and an awesome map room. Sigh – it was like our OWN little Titanic! It was sad when the great ship went down…

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