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Old 11-10-2012, 03:42 PM   #1
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Edmund Fitzgerald


Gordon Lightfoots tribute to the wreck 37 years ago today continues to be a haunting and mezmerising song



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Old 11-10-2012, 04:39 PM   #2
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Yep...it was in our local paper today. The ship departed the taconite slips in the Duluth/Superior harbor before heading for Detroit and its eventual fate. It was actually built in the shipyards about ten blocks from my house. I have some framed pictures from the launching. Some of the seamen's families are still in the area.

I went to the lighting of the Split Rock Lighthouse for the 35th anniversary. With the lake fog, the light coming on, and the bell tolling 30 times, it was quite an experience.

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Old 11-10-2012, 04:59 PM   #3
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Edmund Fitzgerald


That storm was monster and added credibility to Lake Superior being an "ocean". The 60-70' waves that came up quickly coupled with the water depth changing from 300'+ feet to 30' in a boat length or two compounded the problem. It just snapped the 900' long ship in half. Even if anyone survived the crash, they would have died anyway because of the cold water of then lake (happens in the summer too). The crazy thing is that it very rarely freezes over in the winter and town on the water on the north shore will have temperatures 20-40 degrees warmer in the winter than a mile or two inland because of the ability of the lake to control the climate near it. The fact that is has so much water in it and the bottom is 900' below sea level, it has a tremendous thermal effect on everything close to it. More than once I fished it in the spring and was 75F and sunny near Duluth (before coming down) and then fishing on and around the lake at 35F with sleet and snow and having to buy extra clothes because I was a foolish optimist.

Dick

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Old 11-10-2012, 05:10 PM   #4
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I'll attest to the temperature phenomenon. My house is 6 blocks from the shoreline. In winter, it'll start out at 15 degrees F on my porch, and as I make my trip down US53 45 miles to work I'll watch the temp just drop. The lowest is about 35 miles out, usually a difference 15 to 25 degrees F. But even 5 miles out from shore it drops quite a bit.

I used to go fishing a lot, and the only time I was ever apprehensive was when we went out on the lake. Even just half a mile from shore, you know you're alone out there. I serviced life rafts as a Coast Guard contractor for a few years and have been on several of the lakers at dock. Despite their size, the guys told me they get tossed around like rag dolls out there during storms.

My kids and I go watch ships going through the Superior entry and the Duluth ship canal once in awhile...growing up and living here makes us take the spectacle for granted. Still cool for me to watch, though. Half the taconite and coal loading docks in town are gone now....but still plenty of ships to watch.
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Old 11-10-2012, 06:47 PM   #5
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I sailed on the lake boats for several years, and have been in a few of those November gales..
I remember making Whitefish Bay one night when a northerly wind was followed by a hell of a west wind and seeing the waves breaking around the funnel.
Every time I passed the six fathom shoals off caribou island I thought of those 29 poor souls on the Fitzgerald. By the way, she would have been a 730 footer. They didn't build the 1000 footers for the upper lakes until later. I have seen ice on Superior, although it may not freeze over completely most winters. Around Christmas in 89, we seemed to be breaking ice all the time, and the icebreakers kept pretty busy.
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Old 11-10-2012, 07:23 PM   #6
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Around here the university research center considers 'frozen over' to be 90% or more. I think 1996-7 was a 100% freeze up. 2003 was a 95% coverage. The furthest out I've ever been was about 5 miles...hard to imagine that much surface area freezing over.
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Old 11-10-2012, 07:47 PM   #7
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That body of water is certainly a savage and unpredictable beast. If there were more people and newscasters around it could frequently be classified as "super storm", but everyone takes it is stride.

I worked 70 miles north of Duluth and and the end of the lake and my boss decided to go home after a reasonably normal on the construction site in early February of -42F there and go to his home to the lakefront house on the north shore where it was about 35F and he had plenty of cold weather clothes from the preceding summer when they saw some snow. - It makes life interesting even though I had to stay there for inspection 24/7 a hour excavation and road/dam construction while he was relaxing.

Dick
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Old 11-11-2012, 01:00 PM   #8
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It's always been interesting for me when working on my house and my folk's place to see the stuff that was differently due to the climate here. Not a lot of wide footprint open-concept homes here. Our last house (built 1950's, 2 story) was built that way and the heating costs were crazy. Our current home was built in 1914, is 3 full stories, almost twice the sq footage, but has a smaller, squarer footprint. And the heating cost is almost half that of the other place.

I do enjoy being able to go up to the front 3rd floor bedroom and, on a clear day, being able to see past Minnesota Point out about 5 miles onto the lake. Watching ships and wave action with a low power telescope is really cool for the kids (and me too).
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Old 11-11-2012, 02:21 PM   #9
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Regarding the Fitzgerald, I don't know if any of the bodies were actually recovered from the interior of the ship (they were there because of the winds and waves on deck), but I think a deep water diver did bring up a ship's bell a year or two after the sinking. I think the bell is in a museum (NOAH?) in MI.

It is really a beautiful lake when it decides to be, but it can be equally savage at times.

Dick
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Old 11-11-2012, 05:54 PM   #10
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The bell is up in the old Coast Guard Station at Whitefish bay, which is now the Great Lakes Shipwreck museum. http://www.shipwreckmuseum.com/ The wife & I went up there for our Honeymoon, after visiting Macinac Island for a day. I have pictures of the exhibits, when we went through the museum.

An experience everyone must go and see.
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Old 11-11-2012, 09:21 PM   #11
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brings a tear to my eye, every time i hear that song.
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Old 11-11-2012, 11:09 PM   #12
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Edmund Fitzgerald


That do bring back the memories of the legand of Edmund Fitzgerald

I have one of my freind his family member was on that vessel and it kinda get ya pretty hard.

So I know how it feel due I did live on tugboat for a while on Superior Lac ( Lake Superior ) and indeed few poster did mention correct it is a inland ocean and it can create it own weather.

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Old 11-25-2012, 07:38 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marqed97 View Post
Yep...it was in our local paper today. The ship departed the taconite slips in the Duluth/Superior harbor before heading for Detroit and its eventual fate. It was actually built in the shipyards about ten blocks from my house. I have some framed pictures from the launching. Some of the seamen's families are still in the area.

I went to the lighting of the Split Rock Lighthouse for the 35th anniversary. With the lake fog, the light coming on, and the bell tolling 30 times, it was quite an experience.
When you went to the lighting, did you by chance take pictures of video of some of the sights you saw? If so, I'd love to see them if you are willing to share.
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Old 11-25-2012, 09:33 PM   #14
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I do have some pictures on a thumb drive around here...I'll look for them. They would be from a few years ago if I remember correctly. I'll see what I can do.
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Old 11-26-2012, 09:22 AM   #15
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Perfect! I look forward to your reply.

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