Friday, November 08, 2013

1250 Again, The Mighty Fitz

1249 Again, The Mighty Fitz

It’s that time of year again.  We’re about to mark the 38th anniversary of the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

We remember some shipwrecks. The Titanic, the Andrea Doria, the General Slocum, the Lusitania, the Bismarck.  Had Gordon Lightfoot not made an unusual song about it, though, we might not remember the Edmund Fitzgerald, which went down in on the Canadian side of Lake Superior on November 10, 1975.

Unlike the sunken battleships or the sunken luxury liners or the sunken touring boats, the Fitz was a mere ore carrier.  There were no deck chairs or orchestras or huge guns.  The Mighty Fitz was a bathtub with a propeller.  And a shipwreck on a lake?  A LAKE?!

Those of us who grew up on the Atlantic maybe too often turn our noses up at the thought of a lake as a formidable body of water. Superior is the largest lake in the world.  And it is the third largest by volume with 200 rivers feeding it from several angles. Put it anywhere else, add a little salt and you've got yourself a perfectly fine sea.

And that bathtub with a propeller?  Standing on the dock and looking up, you could confuse it with a mountain or a skyscraper. Length?  Bigger than anything that floats and that you've been on. Seven hundred twenty nine feet.  (The Titanic was 883.5, so only 150 feet or so bigger.)

We know what killed the Titanic, the Andrea Doria, the General Slocum, the Lusitania, the Bismarck.  We do not know what killed the Edmund Fitz.  A storm with hurricane force winds came suddenly and went?  The bathtub overturned and broke up and went down, all so fast there wasn't time for a real distress call?

We can't exactly ask Capt. Ernest McSorley or any of the 28 others on board.  But think about this:  this vast ship, largest of its class and time, a city size bathtub carrying more than a quarter million tons of taconite, rocks with iron, falls 500 feet down and no one knows why or how.

It took awhile to find the wreck.  The US Navy did that with magnets.

They've dived down and gotten the ship's bell. Did that only in 1995.   It's in the museum they built.   

Fifteen thousand people were on hand for the launch in '58. Twenty nine were on board for the sinking in  '75.  And they remain on board, preserved in their final moments and probably in good condition at that.  The freshwater doesn't destroy its victims as the ocean does and there are no real predators down there.

As far as we know, all the crew remain where they landed.  The families don't want them brought up.   

That's the way they do it on the lakes.  And this is the time of year we remember them.


--Stanford University's expert on multitasking, Clifford Nass, has died. Nass was 55 years old. In a statement, the University said that he did so many things at once, he got everything done way ahead of time.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Parts of this post were self plagiarized from earlier Wessays™ on this subject.
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© 2013, 2009, 2001 WJR

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