Monday, November 8, 2010

Edmund Fitzgerald 35th Anniversary - local connection

The gales of November came early was a memorable line from a Gordon Lightfoot 70's song.  Since 1950, there have been ninety-one recorded shipwrecks on the Great Lakes.  Nineteen of these have occurred in the month of November.  Twenty-six were the results of storms.  Of the ninety-one shipwrecks, some were tugboats, others tankers, and still others included dredgers, passenger vessels or research craft.  However, the four greatest Great Lakes tragedies since 1950 occurred on lake freighters.  The Henry Steinbrenner went down on May 11, 1953 in Lake Superior.  The Carl D. Bradley was lost in a storm on Lake Michigan on November 18, 1958.  The Daniel J. Morrell sunk in Lake Huron on November 29, 1966.  November 10, 1975 saw the Edmund Fitzgerald succumb to the worst storm in nearly three decades on Lake Superior.  Crew lost were 17, 33, 28, and 29 respectively.  Dennis Hale of Ashtabula was the sole survivor in the Morrell shipwreck.  His book SOLE SURVIVOR recounts that night in 1966.

November 10, 2010 marks the 35th Anniversary of the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.  Fairport Harbor resident Edward F. Bindon was the engineer on board that night.  A seasoned veteran of the Great Lakes, he nonetheless perished that cold November night with 28 other shipmates, 12 of whom called Ohio their home. To this day no one knows for certain why the 729 foot ore carrier foundered so suddenly.  The Fitzgerald and the entire crew still lie just 17 miles north-northwest of Whitefish Point in 535 feet of water. The Fairport Harbor Historical Society, Fairport VFW Post 7754, and the USCG Station Fairport will be collaborating in a memorial program at the Post Hall on East Street in Fairport at 7pm.  An eighteen minute video, ship's manifests, archival pictures, and a ceremonial 'Call to the Last Watch' will be highlights of this hour long public program.

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