KEYSTONE STATE lost November 10, 1861 with all 33 persons aboard. Amazing drawing done by the great Bob McGreevy I'd suggest visiting his site and buying his work!
It is a good thing every November 10th that the folks interested in the vessels that sail the Great Lakes pause to remember this loss of the EDMUND FITZGERALD. Popularized by the 1976 hit song written as an afterthought by Gordon Lightfoot (yes he needed filler for one last track on his “Summertime Dream” album and so he wrote this song), the haunting ballad drew many folks into the realm of “boat nut,” “boat watcher” and maritime historian. That included me and led to my second career as a Great Lakes shipwreck author.
I am often asked “How come you never wrote about the EDMUND FITZGERALD?” A question my publisher would like to see resolved- I assure you. The answer is, for the most part, that everyone else has already done it. Additionally, there are so many other stories to tell when it comes to shipwrecks on the Great Lakes- my time is better spent doing that job.
When you participate in the remembrance of the FITZ and her crew, you should also give long consideration to the thousands (Yes, “THOUSANDS”) of other vessels that have been lost on the Great Lakes as well as the tens of thousands of people that those boats took with them. Such as the IRONSIDES that took 28 to the bottom of Lake Michigan in 1875. That’s just one soul less than the FITZ took to the bottom. Or, perhaps the EQUINOX who took 25 people to their doom followed by her sister ship the MENDOTA that took 12. Both went down in the same storm. Or how about the ALPENA that, in 1880, sank taking an estimated 100 down with her? Those are just a very few examples of shipwrecks on the lakes.
If you get into the Dave Swayze database you’ll find more than 7,000 shipwrecks listed. They all had real people on them who have their own personal stories, yet have been largely forgotten. And you’d be surprised at how many of those vessels were lost on November 10th. So, when that date rolls around, I remember the FITZ and her crew of 29. I also try my best to rediscover all of those other folks who ventured out onto the Great Lakes and never returned.
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Please, please, remember the FITZ which was lost on November 10th, 1975. Play the song. Meanwhile I’ll be remembering the ATLANTIC which was lost on that same date in 1903, the JAMES BARDON No.7 of that date in 1890, BARGE 104 of 1898, the BOAZ of 1887, the BRIDGET of 1835…
And that’s just workin’ my way through the “Bs” folks…