35 Years Ago…

The First Essential Scary Truth

On October 25, a ‘Great Lakes Cyclone’ blew across the Midwest. Some pundits called this inland “hurricane” the storm of the century, the worst storm to ever hit that part of the country etc.

In truth there a whole bunch of storms that were worse than the November 2010 iteration. The Great Lakes gales of 1913 come to mind as well as the storm that come out of nowhere 35 years ago November 9-10 and sunk the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The Edmund Fitzgerald was the last major shipwreck on the Lakes. Hopefully with our advanced meteorology techniques, it will be our last.

The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald

By Gordon Lightfoot

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down

Of the big lake they called Gitchee Gumee

The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead

When the skies of November turn gloomy

With a load of iron ore, 26,000 tons more

Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty

That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed

When the gales of November came early

The ship was the pride of the American side

Coming back from some mill in Wisconsin

As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most

With a crew and good captain well seasoned

Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms

When they left fully loaded for Cleveland

And later that night when the ship’s bell rang

Could it be the north wind they’d been feelin’

The wind in the wires made a tattletale sound

And a wave broke over the railing

And every man knew as the captain did too

‘Twas the witch of November come stealin’

The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait

When the gales of November came slashin’

When afternoon came it was freezin’ rain

In the face of a hurricane west wind

When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck

Sayin’, “Fellas, it’s too rough to feed ya”

At seven p.m., a main hatchway caved in

He said “Fellas, it’s been good to know ya”

The captain wired in he had water comin’ in

And the good ship and crew was in peril

And later that night when its lights went out of sight

Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Does anyone know where the love of God goes

When the waves turn the minutes to hours

The searchers all say they’d have made Whitefish Bay

If they’d put fifteen more miles behind her

They might have split up or they might have capsized

They may have broke deep and took water

And all that remains is the faces and the names

Of the wives and the sons and the daughters

Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings

In the rooms of her ice-water mansion

Old Michigan steams like a young man’s dreams

The islands and bays are for sportsmen

And farther below Lake Ontario

Takes in what Lake Erie can send her

And the iron boats go as the mariners all know

With the gales of November remembered

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed

In the Maritime Sailors’ Cathedral

The church bell chimed ’til it rang 29 times

For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down

Of the big lake they called Gitchee Gumee

Superior, they said, never gives up her dead

When the gales of November come early

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