Hi there, it’s John Calhoun. Having grown up in Minnesota, I know a little bit about Lake Superior. Yes you can swim in the big lake, but don’t try it without a wetsuit. It’s always cold and it’s deep. Superior’s average depth is 483 feet, some 200 feet deeper than Lake Michigan. A surface area of nearly 32,000 miles and more than 2,700 miles of shoreline make Superior the largest freshwater lake in the world. The name Superior is no mere boast.

It was 44 years ago today, that the 29 man crew of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald perished when their ship sank in Canadian waters near Whitefish Bay. That much is common knowledge.

A few things not as well known:

  • The ship was named for a Milwaukee civic leader.
  • Edmund Fitzgerald’s grandfather had been a ship captain himself.
  • The SS Edmund Fitzgerald was the largest ship on the Great Lakes when launched in 1958.
  • The 729 foot-long ship sank in 530 feet of water.
  • It’s the largest sunken ship in the Great Lakes.

A Newsweek magazine article about the tragic event (The Cruelest Month) inspired Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot to compose and record The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald. He considers the song to be his finest work.

Making its chart debut in August of 1976, the song would peak at #2, becoming  Gordon Lightfoot’s second biggest hit single.