At the time of her launch in 1958, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald was the largest freighter on the Great Lakes. For 17 years the Fitzgerald hauled taconite iron ore from the mines of Duluth, MN to Detroit and other Great Lakes ports setting records for seasonal hauls six times. Big Fitz became a legend when the ship went down on Lake Superior during a winter storm on November 10, 1975. Sailing in company of the Arthur M Anderson, the Fitzgerald took on a heavy list and continues for several hours. At last check, Captain Ernest McSorely of the Fitzgerald radioed, "We are holding our own." Moments later the ship went down without so much as a distress call. All 29 hands were lost.
A U.S. Navy P-3 Orion aircraft, equipped to detect magnetic anomalies located the wreck on November 14, 1975 at a depth of 530 feet. are several theories. In May of 1976 the Navy surveyed the wreck using the unmanned CURV-III submersible. The wreck was found to be in two pieces on the bottom with the forward section of the ship sitting upright and the rear section resting in an overturned position. In following decades there were several dives to the wreck both manned and unmanned.
The USCG Marine Casualty Report of 1977 suggested the ship sank due to ineffective closures of the cargo hatches which allowed water to flood the cargo holds, Over the years there have been many theories of what caused the ship to sink. The theories include structural failure, rouge waves and the possibility the ship bottomed out while passing over Six Fathom Shoal thereby causing the hull to fracture. Perhaps the real cause of the sinking may never be known for certain. This depiction shows the Edmund Fitzgerald touching bottom as she passes over the Six Fathom Shoal on the fateful night.