How True Was Gordon Lightfoot’s Epic Song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald?
The actual Edmund Fitzgerald went down in the cold waters of Lake Superior on Nov 10, 1975, taking the lives of 29 crew. You've probably heard Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot's story about the sinking of the big iron ore ship, but how much of the song was true? With the 44th anniversary of the tragedy this weekend, let's take a look:
In Gordon's song the ship was "heading fully loaded for Cleveland," but the full ship was actually headed for Detroit to unload and then on to her home port in Cleveland.
In the song the Captain's last message was "water coming in," but the real last radio transmission was "we're holding our own".
Gordon sets the funeral at the "Maritime Sailor's Cathedral" in Detroit where the bell was rung 29 times. The real name of the church is "Maritime Church of Detroit"..
The church is described as a "musty old hall" in the song. Gordon reported that a member of the church approached him years ago and set him straight that their church was not "musty." In live concerts now, he calls it a "rustic" old hall.
These are just minor deviations from the actual occurrences 44 years ago when the Edmund Fitzgerald sank beneath the waters of the lake, "Gitche Gumee". No bodies have ever been recovered from the sinking.The statistic I was most impressed and saddened by was that in the years the big ships have sailed the five Great Lakes. over 6,000 have sunk taking the lives of more than 30,000 sailors.