Of the big lake they called 'Gitche Gumee' The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead When the skies of November turn gloomy
With a load of iron ore, twenty-six thousand tons more Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed When the gales of November came early.
The ship was the pride of the American side Coming back from some mill in Wisconsin As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most With a crew and good captain well-seasoned
Concluding some terms with a couple steel firms When they left fully loaded for Cleveland And later that night when the ship's bell rang Could it be the north wind they'd been feelin'?
The wind in the wires made the tattle-tale sound And the wave broke over the railing And every man knew, as the captain did too T'was the witch of November come stealin'
The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait When the gales of November came slashin' When afternoon came, it was freezin' rain In the face of a hurricane west wind.
When supper time came, the old cook came on deck sayin' Fellas, it's too rough to feed ya At 7 P.M. a main hatchway caved in, he said Fellas, it's been good to know ya'
The captain wired in he had water comin' in And the good ship and crew was in peril And later that night when his lights went out of sight Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
Does anyone know where the love of God goes When the waves turn the minutes to hours? The searchers all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay If they'd put fifteen more miles behind her
They might have split up or they might have capsized They may have broke deep and took water And all that remains is the faces and the names Of the wives and the sons and the daughters.
Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings In the rooms of her ice-water mansion Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams The islands and bays are for sportsmen
And farther below Lake Ontario Takes in what Lake Erie can send her And the iron boats go, as the mariners all know With the gales of November remembered.
In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed In the Maritime Sailors' Cathedral The church bell chimed 'til it rang twenty-nine times For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down Of the big lake they call 'Gitche Gumee' Superior, they said, never gives up her dead When the gales of November come early!
Written By: Gordon Lightfoot
~I was raised in (and still live in) the Great Lakes region. I remember this tragedy. I have been to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at the Whitefish Point Lighthouse, just beyond where the Fitzgerald went down. The museum continues to remember the most famous Great Lakes shipwreck with an annual ceremony. The bell is rung 29 times, once for each member of the Edmund Fitzgerald crew, and a 30th time for all who have lost their lives on the Great Lakes. It is with great respect that I remember and honour the crew of The Edmund Fitzgerald, lost to the gales of November 10, 1975.~