Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

AP WAS THERE: 40 Years Ago, Edmund Fitzgerald Sinks

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

AP WAS THERE: 40 Years Ago, Edmund Fitzgerald Sinks

Article excerpt

The Great Lakes have claimed thousands of ships since European explorers began navigating the waters in the 1600s, but few have captured the public's imagination as has the Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank on Nov. 10, 1975, in Lake Superior.

Much of that attention is owed to Gordon Lightfoot's haunting ballad, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," which memorialized the ship and its crew members, whose bodies remain with the sunken vessel.

Forty years after the Fitzgerald sank to its chilly resting place, this is the Associated Press story written after the tragedy:

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. * Rescuers searched Lake Superior's chilly waters Tuesday for the 29-member crew of the sunken ore- carrier Edmund Fitzgerald but found only an oil slick, empty lifeboats and life jackets.

Aircraft and ships crisscrossed the lake's eastern tip in the area where the ship, once the largest ore-carrier on Lake Superior, went down in 520 feet of water about 7:30 p.m. Monday.

Coast Guard officials said it was unlikely anyone could survive in the 51-degree water more than three hours but added that they were still hopeful.

The 729-foot vessel vanished from radar screens as winds of hurricane force of 75 miles per hour raised waves to 25 feet in 42- degree weather.

"In those conditions, survivability on the average would be about three hours," said a Coast Guard spokesman. "But this has been greatly exceeded on many occasions if they got into a protective life raft or were wearing protective clothing."

An oil slick, two lifeboats, a life raft and other debris were found in the area, with some washing up on the Canadian shore 13 miles to the northeast. One of the lifeboats had a serial number matching that of the ship, authorities said.

Among the debris were several orange life jackets, some bobbing in the water and others washed onto the rocky shoreline.

The lake surface was extremely calm Tuesday, and search operations were aided by a dull gray sky that eliminated reflections and made it easier to spot debris from the air.

Two freighters, a pair of Coast Guard helicopters and two planes were taking part in the search.

The Coast Guard said the Fitzgerald may have broken up and sunk before a distress call could be made. …

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