Thursday, August 9, 2007

November Blizzards

In my last post I mentioned that the only day of the year that the Split Rock light is lit is on November 10 to commemorate the sinking in 1975 of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Kiwibird posted a comment on the song and this morning the following article appeared in the St Paul paper about a life ring some folks found that was thought to be from the Fitz. I figured the stars coming together like that meant I needed to do a Fitz post.

For we Great Lakes folks the sinking and the storm itself are legendary. Up until this storm the famous Armistice Day blizzard was the standard by which we measured November storms. My father, who was in high school at the time (1940), pissed off my Uncle Chuck by refusing to go duck hunting because of "some high school thing that I don't even remember now". As a result, no one went and it likely saved their lives. Dozens of duck hunters were not so lucky.

I was in college at the time of the Fitz sinking and remember walking across the footbridge that spanned the Chippewa River and thinking about holding on to keep from getting blown off. News of the sinking really struck us since several of my buddies were from Ashland, WI, home of several of the crewmen that were lost. There were many stories about the storm but one that really hit home and illustrated the force involved was the one that we were told by the caretaker of the Battle Island light, off Rossport, ONT. The photo below is of the lighthouse. We had paddled out during our annual fall kayak trip. We were told that during the storm in 1975 waves threw up pieces of ice high enough that they broke the windows......of the light beacon itself! Much more good info can be found at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum on Whitefish Point which is where I took the shots of the ships bell and plaque. "The searchers all say she'd of made Whitefish Bay if she'd put 15 more miles behind her". The museum is not anywhere near the beaten path but well worth the trip. Its hard to think about blizzards on a 90F day in August but, as the sumac leaves begin to turn red, we Lake Superior junkies all know that they are right around the corner.

1 comment:

Kristen said...

Much appreciated, Olson - that means a lot. I grew up on the water, but the EF song, heard many thousands of kms away, many years ago, always raised goose bumps.