November 10 marks the anniversary of the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, sitting at the bottom of Lake Superior since 1975.

Did ya ever wonder why it was named the “Edmund Fitzgerald” and who, if anyone, was the real “ Edmund Fitzgerald”?

There was a real, mortal, human-type being named Edmund Fitzgerald. Born in 1895, his biggest claim to fame (other than being immortalized by the shipwreck) was serving as chairman of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company. He started as a trustee in 1933, became vice president that very same year, and fourteen years later in 1947, he was the company president. In 1958, he was elected chairman of the board.

But why name a ship after him?

Maybe partly because his grandfather John Fitzgerald was once a ship captain...maybe because his father was a well-known builder of ships. It could also be that Edmund's insurance company actually had the 729-foot long ship built, and named it after himself. With a good supply of nautical history in the family, I guess the ship's name makes sense.

The S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald set sail for the first time in 1958 and was the pride of the Great Lakes – it was their hugest vessel. For seventeen years the SS Fitz traveled all through the Great Lakes and beyond, hitting the ports from Minnesota to Ohio. Then on November 10, 1975, 35-foot waves added to the rough Superior waters that eventually sank the ship, taking with it the entire crew of 29.

See underwater photos of the sunken Edmund Fitzgerald here.

The Real Edmund Fitzgerald


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