History of the Fitz & Whitefish Point:

The Crew
The history of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald and Whitefish Point are forever bound to each other. Twenty nine men lost their lives when the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald sank in a November 10, 1975 storm 17 miles from Whitefish Point. The Whitefish Point light and radio beacon went out from a power failure on that fateful night while the Fitz fought blindly without her radar in heavy seas & hurricane force winds japanese hoodie in joom. Gordon Lightfoot immortalized the crew with his ballad, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”.

The bell of the Fitz is on display at Whitefish Point.


Ernest M. McSorley
John M. McCarthy
James A. Pratt
Michael E. Armagost
George J. Holl
Edward F. Bindon
Thomas E. Edwards
Russel B. Haskell
Oliver J. Champeau
Frederick J. Beetcher
Thomas Bentsen
Thomas D. Borgeson
Nolan F. Church
Ransom E. Cundy
Bruce L. Hudson
Allen G. Lalmon
Gordon F. MacLellan
Joseph W. Mazes
Eugene W. Obrien
Karl A. Peckol
John J. Poviach
Robert C. Rafferty
Paul M. Riipa
John D. Simmons
William J. Spengler
Mark A. Thomas
Ralph G. Walton
David E. Weiss
Blaine H. Wilhelm


S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald Controversy:

The controversy surrounding the sinking of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald started almost immediately with allegations of cover up and negligence by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Marine Board of Investigations, and the owner, the Northwestern Mutual Insurance Company.

Captain Dudley J. Pauquette, Master of the S.S. Wilfred Sykes said this about the Fitz:

"Right after we searched for and found floating debris from the Fitz, the U.S. Coast Guard released us from our search efforts at 1300 hours (1 p.m.) on November 11, 1975. I was captain of the first vessel involved in the storm and the search effort to arrive at a discharge port. A couple of the owner company's lawyers came aboard my ship at Indiana Harbor, Indiana, and asked for my description of the conditions in the days before the wreck and what my opinion was as to the cause of this terrible loss. My description of those huge seas and terrible weather took about 15 seconds and I told them that my opinion about the wreck was that there was negligence involved. Those lawyers didn't even have a chance to open their briefcases, but they left my ship in one helluva hurry when I said that. They didn't want to hear anything about negligence. ... Nobody ever called me to testify in the hearings - even though I was one of only three or four masters who sailed in the worst of that storm."

From page 24 & 30 of The Night the Fitz Went Down, by Hugh E. Bishop

The Marine Board of Investigation placed the official blame on the dead crew of the Fitz by saying that loose hatch covers allowed a large intake of water that caused the sinking.

The controversy escalated to an uproar in 1994 when the leader of Expedition 94, Frederick Shannon, announced the discovery of a body at the Fitzgerald wreck site. Family members of the Fitzgerald crew asked that the wreck be declared a grave site.

Exploitation of the Fitz sinking began early on and has never relented since she sank in 1975. The group operating the Shipwreck Museum, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society, has a long history of exploiting the Fitz that includes violating a permit to visit the wreck by removing some of the ship’s cargo, an elaborate scheme that salvaged & defaced her bell for the center piece of their museum at Whitefish Point, and returning to the site to take sonar images of the Fitz after they promised to never to go back. Contrary to widely circulated reports, the Ontario Ministry of Culture will grant an archaeological license to explore the wreck of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald for legitimate reasons. (See the Ontario Minister of Culture Caroline Di Cocco’s June 5, 2007 letter confirming this.)

You Tube Video:
Operation Taconite on the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

You Tube Video:
The Wreck of the
S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald:
Historical Documents

You Tube Video:
“Trash Even on the Fitzgerald Site”

You Tube Video:
Save the Fitz Bell

Tube videos about the history of the wreck of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald:
Expedition 94: Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
Congressman Stupak’s Edmund Fitzgerald Debate
Edmund Fitzgerald bell transfer ceremony

You Tube videos of raw footage of the wreck of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald:
Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald: Dive #241 - Part 1
Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald: Dive #241– Part 2
Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald: Dive #241– Part 3
Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald: Dive #241 - Part 4
Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald: Dive #241 - Part 5
Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald: Dive #241 - Part 6
Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald: Dive #241 - Part 7
Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald: Dive #241 - Part 8
Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald: Dive #241 - Part 9
Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald: Part 10 – August 1994

Commercialization of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald:

Billboards of a struggling S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald funnel tourists across Michigan’s Mackinac Bridge and Upper Peninsula to the Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point. The tourists pay $13.00 apiece to see the bell from the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, the only official memorial to her crew at Whitefish Point. Unsuspecting tourists hear Gordon Lightfoot’s song play over and over as they walk past a collection of shipwreck artifacts that were mostly stolen from the State of Michigan. Once outside the museum, the tourist ends up at a huge gift shop that hawks a tasteless array of Fitz trinkets.


The history of maritime artifacts at Whitefish Point

Video: Grave Robbers of the Great Lakes


In November of 2007, Jon Soyring, a family member weary of the endless, negative exploitation of the sinking of the Fitz decided to put the ship's fame and notoriety to positive use after being touched by a little girl's poem about the Fitz. He started a capital campaign to build a new school for the little girl's community. He wrote an article about the little girl and her crumbling school that was published in the Great Lakes Pilot. Donations to the Whitefish Township Community Schools building fund may be sent to:

Whitefish Township Community School
P.O. Box 58
Paradise, MI 49768
Fitz Trinkets for sale at Whitefish Point

See:"A Girl Named Mary # 6"
by Jon Soyring

Recommended books:

The Night the Fitz Went Down, by Hugh E. Bishop (order at www.lakesuperior.com)

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