Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Big Fitz

Yesterday was the 35th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. I told this to my wife and kids which resulted in blank stares. The Big Fitz was an iron ore boat that went down in Lake Superior in an early winter storm on November 10th, 1975. Lake freighters are called boats, not sure why, but they are huge. The Edmund Fitzgerald was 720 feet long, the maximum length that would still fit through the locks on the canals connecting the lakes.

Its easy to forget how much we are at nature's mercy in the modern age and at the time it was a shock that something as big as the Fitzgerald could be sunk by a storm. The storm of November 10, 1975 was a great lakes hurricane with sustained winds of close to 60 mph and gusts up to about 90 and up to 35 foot waves. A similar November storm in 1913 destroyed 19 ships, including 12 that were sunk, and killed 250 people.

This song by Gordon Lightfoot always haunted me when I heard it as a kid.

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