The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

As the winter months set in, nature becomes a cruel reminder of one’s mortality. As maritime traditions go, navigating the waters of the Great Lakes was always a treacherous one, combining extreme cold, enormous size, and gale-force winds that could reach hurricane force. On November 10th, 1975, nearby ships and shore radio stations lost contact with the Edmund Fitzgerald, one of the largest and most storied iron ore freighters that worked the lakes with some regularity, and the last lake freighter to go down since. After losing its radar and beginning to list, the Fitzgerald went under with all 29 crew members in the darkness of the night, leaving rescue crews and researchers alike more questions than answers as to how such a vessel could have capsized and sank with such speed.


The Myth of the 20th Century – Episode 149 – The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

— References —

– Death Ship, Traven (1980)
– North Country, Caro (2005)
– Mighty Fitz: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, Schumacher (2008)

5 Comments Add yours

  1. For fun, I’ll mention that I was refurbishing an attic in East Lansing the day the Edmund Fitzgerald went down. Even hundreds of miles away from Lake Superior, it was brutally cold and windy. Just plain mean and ugly weather. When my workmate and I heard the news of the lost-ship, we were overcome by a kinda dreadful metaphysic. Like listening to the radio, in National Socialist Germany, and hearing that the 6th Army was surrounded in Stalingrad. This is only a slight exaggeration. There was a sense of deep-deep doom and irrevocable catastrophe. The terror of being stranded on a sinking ship.


  2. Peter Whitaker says:

    Iron ore originates from the Great Oxidation Event. Before the evolution of photosynthesis, iron occurred naturally in its pure form dissolved in the ocean. Oxygen started to be produced and in short time precipitated all the iron down to the ocean floor. From this brief moment in geological history comes the banded iron formation. Precambrian rocks are the oldest and deepest rocks and are only raised to the surface when mountains form. Within newly formed mountains, the precambrian rock is still buried beneath the base of the mountain. Only the very oldest mountain formations have been eroded away to expose these bottom layers. These are regions that are completely eroded flat and are called continental shields or cratons. Continental shields are located at the center of continental plates. They serve as the nuclei around which continents accumulate land. The continental shield of North America encompasses the Hudson Bay and all of the surrounding provinces. Lake Superior marks the southern boundary of what is called the Canadian Shield. The link below explains in further detail the geology of the Great Lakes region.


  3. Dad Rock says:

    Good show. I used to hear about the Edmund Fitzgerald and other lost Lake Superior freighters from my maternal grandparents in the UP. My dad and grandpa were both merchant marines and I spent a year and a half in the marine construction industry. I can absolutely confirm the realization of insignificance in the face of nature.


  4. Earl Shetland says:

    This is why I love this show. One week, a guest explains how Satanic forces conspired to destroy Rome and have put the world on the death spiral ever since… the following week, friggin’ Gordon Lightfoot.

    But that’s how life goes sometimes.


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