“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”


7 to 8:30 p.m.

Historical Society of Michigan

5815 Executive Dr., Lansing

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 14 — It’s been 43 years since the 728-foot long Edmund Fitzgerald iron ore freighter spontaneously sank during a storm on Lake Superior, and there are still plenty of mysteries to uncover.

As part of its History Hounds series, the Historical Society of Michigan seeks to highlight the shipping tragedy turned local lore and legend, with a presentation by Heritage Christian Academy history teacher and Edmund Fitzgerald historian John Beck.

“The mystery of its sinking continues to intrigue the imagination and investigation of historians to this day,” Beck said. “2018 is the 60th anniversary of the construction of the ship. There are still questions to be answered about the construction techniques used and its impact on the structural integrity of the hull.”

Beck was introduced to the Edmund Fitzgerald after coming across a short book on the subject at a teacher resource business, he said.

“Oddly enough I had never heard of the ship or the song before that moment. I bought the book written by Captain Robert Hertel and that started a lifelong fascination with the topic."

Gordon Lightfoot’s “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” folk song catapulted the mystery into mainstream audiences, reaching the number two spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1976.

Beck said this is likely the greatest reason for the ongoing popularity and commemoration of the tragedy. However, there is still plenty to learn about the ship’s sinking and history before the tragedy, he added.

“There are four ships in history with the name of S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald. Mr. Fitzgerald came from a distinguished family in the shipping industry. Also, the New Jason Islands printed a commemorative 50 note currency featuring the ship's likeness.”

The official reason for the sinking attributes the tragedy to no supernatural occurrences:

According to the Coast Guard’s definitive report on the sinking, faulty hatch covers were to blame.

“That is probably the least likely contributing cause to the sinking in my opinion. I would suggest it was the tragic culmination of all the various theories in all likelihood.”

Other events in Lansing:

11 a.m. to 7 p.m., $12, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 1701 E. Saginaw St., Lansing

5 to 7 p.m., Grace Boutique of Old Town, 509 E. Cesar E. Chavez Ave., Lansing

8 to 10 p.m., Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, 547 E. Circle Dr., East Lansing