(Side note: We're having big geomagnetic storms yesterday and today so if last night and tonight you have strange dreams--chalk it up to that. It's a great time to ghost hunt right now!)
On November 10, 1975, while traveling on Lake Superior during a gale, the Fitzgerald sank suddenly in Canadian waters approximately 17 miles (15 nmi; 27 km) from the entrance of Whitefish Bay at a depth of 530 feet (160 m). Although she had reported having some difficulties prior to the accident, the Fitzgerald sank without sending any distress signals. Her crew of 29 perished in the sinking with no bodies being recovered. When the wreck was found, it was discovered that the Fitzgerald had broken in two. The sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald is the most famous disaster in the history of Great Lakes shipping. Once Anderson noted the loss of Fitzgerald, a search was launched for survivors.
The initial search consisted of the Arthur M. Anderson, and a second freighter, SS William Clay Ford. The efforts of a third freighter, the Canadian vessel Hilda Marjanne, were foiled by the weather. The U.S. Coast Guard launched three aircraft, but could not mobilize any ships. A Coast Guard buoy tender, Woodrush, was able to launch within two and a half hours, but took a day to arrive. The search recovered debris, including lifeboats and rafts, but no survivors.
The wreck was first located by a U.S. Navy aircraft with on-board magnetic anomaly detector equipment, normally used to detect submarines. The wreck was further surveyed using side scan sonar on November 14 to November 16 by the Coast Guard. The sonar revealed two large objects lying close together on the lake floor. A second survey took place from November 22 through November 25 by a private contractor, Seaward, Inc.
In 1976, from May 20 to May 28, an unmanned U.S. Navy submersible photographed the wreck. This submersible, CURV III, consisted of an underwater vehicle connected via umbilical control to a surface support ship. On-board imaging equipment included one 35 mm still and two black-and-white video cameras. It found Edmund Fitzgerald lying in two large pieces in 530 feet (160 m) of water. The bow section, approximately 276 feet (84 m) long, lay upright in the mud. The approximately 253 feet (77 m) stern section lay 170 feet (52 m) away, inverted (face down), at a 50-degree angle from the bow. Metal and taconite heaps between the bow and stern comprised the remnants of the mid-section. (Wikipedia)
I’ve been fascinated with this story since I was a kid, but my father was a Navy man for 20 years in the South Pacific and got me into a love of stories of peril on the sea including when he was in on the search for Amelia Earhart. I also was a big fan of Jacques Cousteau’s shows and a lighthouse addict, so the sea was always a romantic subject in my mind. We often discussed the Bermuda Triangle around the supper table. My father had a good friend in the squadron that went down there and he always felt bad for talking him into not taking his leave and running that exercise. When Gordon Lightfoot (my most heartthrob favorite singer as a kid) came out with a song dedicated to the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, it started a family discussion around the table. We often times picked a subject and all five kids would debate about it while father moderated. I always liked to take the contrary position to bait my siblings into making better debates for their sides. However, the night we talked about the Fitzgerald I went completely quiet. I didn’t care so much how it sank or how it could have been prevented. I was focused on the obvious question in my mind:
Can ghosts haunt underwater wrecks???