I remember it well. I was a student in the U.P. at the time, and was out walking on the shores of Lake Superior late on the afternoon the Fitzgerald went down. It was a really powerful storm, and some of us wanted to be out in it, foolish teenagers that we were. Actually, not right on the shore--the water was too rough, the waves way too big. Across the street was as close as I wanted to get. "Ominous" is a good way to describe the lake that day. The next morning, we learned that a large freighter was missing.
waltj, I was working in the iron mines north of Marquette at the time. At almost the instant the Fitz went down, my brother and I were driving northbound across the Might Mac. A semi had been blown over onto its side in the southbound lanes. The bridge was shut down immediately thereafter. A wild night indeed.
I was contracting at GM's tech center in '94. There was a team with a submersible doing a survey of the Fitzgerald. Saw it on the evening news for a couple of nights.
I didn't realize until I took a tour of the light boat at Port Huron that the wreck had happened in '75. I had figured that Lightfoot's song was about some old history, not a contemporary even. Didn't seem to make the news in L.A.
...the wreck had happened in '75.
Night of November 10-11, 1975, IIRC. Yes, JimBob, it was a very wild night. I spent over four years in the U.P., saw the Big Lake almost every day in that period, and that day the Fitzgerald sank was by far the roughest I every saw it. The Mackinaw Bridge authority was usually pretty good about closing in high winds, but sometimes the storms beat them to the punch. It's not a decision to make lightly, since there's no real alternative route. But when semis start blowing over, it's time.
Only the men who dare the wrath of the Lakes know how deadly they can be. Their unpredictable gales and squalls have taken many lives less well known than those of the crew of the Edmund Fitzgerald. We who lounge in comfort, enjoying the gewgaws made from the raw materials they haul across the most treacherous waters in the Western Hemisphere, surely owe them more recognition than they usually receive.