The Legend Of The SS Fitzgerald

Not just a mysterious shipwreck

Published in the October 2018 Issue January 2019 Feature Emily FitzPatrick

“Does any one know where the love of God goes

When the waves turn the minutes to hours?

The searches all say they’d have made Whitefish Bay

If they’d put fifteen more miles behind her

They might have split up or they might have capsized

They may have broke deep and took water

And all that remains is the faces and the names

Of the wives and the sons and the daughters”


It’s difficult to imagine the last moments of the crewmen aboard the SS Fitzgerald, which is perhaps why the world fixated on the SS Fitzgerald itself and what caused it to sink rather than on the crewmen aboard in the years following its sinking.

Gordon Lightfoot’s lyrics from his song titled, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” draw attention to the fact that the sinking of the vessel was a horrific event that permanently impacted the lives of 29 families of crew members who passed away that November night.

Everyone knows of the SS Fitzgerald because of the mysterious way in which it wrecked on November 10, 1975. In fact, to this day no one knows exactly what happened. Did the ship bottom out near Six Fathom Shoal? Did a series of waves cause the ship to snap in two upon the surface? Or was there structural damage that left the ship unable to withstand the gales of November?

The truth is that the world will likely never know which of these theories is closest to the truth, especially since all expeditions to the ship were ended in 1995 after the bell of the SS Fitzgerald was raised from the site and replaced with a new bell engraved with the names of all of the crewmen who were lost, dedicating it as a grave site. It is officially illegal to dive near the wreck.

However, certain facts are already known about the SS Fitzgerald that make it a legend worth remembering — and those truths are centered on the lives of the men who were lost.

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