Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fairport Harbor to host Remembrance for the 40th Anniversary of Edmund Fitzgerald Disaster

The SS Edmund Fitzgerald was an American Great Lakes 'workhorse' freighter that sank in a Lake Superior on November 10, 1975.  Lost that fateful night were Captain Ernest McSorley and his crew of 29.  Launched in June of '58, the Fitzgerald spent her seventeen years carrying taconite iron ore from mines near Duluth, Minnesota to iron works in Detroit, Toledo and other nearby ports.  'Workhorse' was a term often used to describe the Fitz as she set seasonal haul records six times in her storied career.

Captain McSorley and his crew, including Fairport Harbor's Ed Binden left one last time on the afternoon of November 9th.  En route to Detroit the freighter and a second freighter the SS Arthur M. Anderson were caught in a sudden and severe winter storm on Lake Superior.  Hurricane force winds and waves up to 35 feet high caused its sudden sinking at 7:10pm in Canadian waters on November 10th.  They were less than two hours from a safe harbor.  At no time was a report of distress or imminent danger reported.  This maritime disaster led to major regulatory changes and practices that included survival suits, depth finders, positioning systems, freeboard increases and more.

Fairport Harbor, Ohio was and remains home to two crew members of the Fitzgerald.  Ed Binden died that fateful eve.  J. William Simko a member on the first crew lives today and recounts the service he and others performed on the mighty Edmund Fitzgerald.

A Tribute and Remembrance Ceremony will be hosted by the Fairport Harbor Historical Society on Monday, November 9, 2015 at 7pm.  The program will be held at the VFW Post 7754 site at 540 New Street in Fairport Harbor.  All are welcome.
Evening's Schedule:
7pm -  "Pride of the American Side: Edmund Fitzgerald Before the Loss" - Chris Gillchrist, The Great Lakes Historical Society will be presenting.
7:45pm - Bill Simko, a member of the first Fitzgerald crew will offer his personal accounts of life aboard the mighty Great Lakes freighter.
8:15pm - Remembrance Ceremony for the '29' -  USCG-Station Fairport

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