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November 1975 doesn’t seem that long ago until you consider how old a recap of that month can make you feel. New York City was on the financial rocks. Karen Ann Quinlan was on a respirator. Lynette (Squeaky) Fromme was on trial, accused of attempting to assassinate President Gerald Ford. Movie buffs were flocking to the Downtown Mann to see Redford and Dunaway in “Three Days of the Condor.” Pot roast cost 79 cents a pound at Penny’s Super Markets, a Northland Bantam hockey stick cost $1.29 at Holiday Village, and a brand-new AMC Gremlin would set you back $2,889.
Gordon Lightfoot could have written a song about any of those things. Instead, he chose the Edmund Fitzgerald. Within hours of the ship's disappearance on Nov. 10, 1975, the Minneapolis Tribune’s night crew hustled to get this first sketchy report onto the next morning's front page.
[Originally posted Nov. 8, 2005]
By Harley Sorensen
|Lake Superior Maritime Collection|
A cargo ship with 35 crew members was reported missing Monday night in treacherous waters in Lake Superior, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
The 729-foot Edmund Fitzgerald was last heard from at about 7:30 p.m. about 15 miles north of Whitefish Point near Sault Ste. Marie off the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, officials said.
The ship radioed coast guard officials at Sault Ste. Marie that it was taking water. The coast guard asked another vessel, the Arthur M. Anderson, to follow the Fitzgerald.
A spokesman for the U.S. Steel Great Lakes fleet said he learned the Anderson was following the Fitzgerald at a distance of about five miles in an easterly direction toward Sault Ste. Marie. He said the Anderson, a U.S. Steel fleet vessel, reported that the Fitzgerald disappeared from sight and the radar scope at about the same time.
The Associated Press said the Fitzgerald departed Duluth-Superior at 1:15 p.m. Sunday with a cargo of 26,216 tons of taconite pellets loaded at the Burlington Northern docks in Superior.
However, a spokesman for Oglebay-Norton Co. Cleveland, the ship’s owner, said, that the Fitzgerald departed Silver Bay, Minn., Sunday bound for Great Lakes Steel Co. in Detroit.
Ed Schmid, assistant to the president of Reserve Mining Co., Silver Bay, said the Fitzgerald is the largest ship to come into Silver Bay. He said Silver Bay is its most frequent port of call.
The coast guard in Duluth said that a 180-foot seagoing buoy tender, the Woodrush, left Duluth last night to search for the Fitzgerald. He said a coast guard tugboat, the Nawgatuck, departed Sault Ste. Marie in the search. Also, he said, airplanes from an air force base in Michigan joined in the search. An Oglebay-Norton spokesman said shortly before midnight that “we haven’t given up hope yet.”
A coast guard spokesman said bad weather had plagued the search. “The seas are so bad,” he said, “it’s almost hazardous for a boat to go out tonight.”
Waves in the area were reported at 25 feet high. They were accompanied by winds gusting to 75 miles per hour, the coast guard said.
|A UPI photo appeared in the Tribune on Nov. 12, 1975, with this caption:
“A coast guardman at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., reached for some of the debris that washed up Tuesday from the sinking of the ore carrier Edmund Fitzgerald. The life preservers, life raft, oars and other small items were brought to Sault St. Marie by helicopter from points along Lake Superior.”