The legend lives on

Our friend Paul Huttner has already posted the obvious music selection for the day: Gordon Lightfoot’s “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” The anniversary of the most famous Lake Superior shipwreck remains poignant to those of us old enough to remember the sinking, and apparently to younger folks too. The raised bell of the Edmund Fitzgerald is the prized attraction of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point, Mich., where the annual memorial service takes place this evening.

The Edmund Fitzgerald story has a couple of irresistible hooks: First, it’s the last time people were killed in a Lake Superior shipwreck. Second, as this story from the Duluth News Tribune notes, the sinking 35 years ago remains freighted with mystery. No one knows just why the vessel sank. Ten years ago, Hugh Bishop explored the available theories, including this one about the fabled “Three Sisters”:

“Perhaps the most romantic theory about the wreck of the Fitzgerald is that the ship succumbed to the forces of the Three Sisters, a Lake Superior phenomenon described as a combination of two large waves inundating the decks of a boat and a third, slightly later monster wave that boards the vessel as it struggles to shrug off the effects of the first two.”

If the theory intrigues you, check out Susan Casey’s book, “The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean.” I haven’t read it yet, but a friend is engrossed by the story of rogue waves that come out of nowhere and kill ships. Not a book to take on a cruise, mind you, but anywhere else it’s supposed to be a great read.

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