The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald is one of the most expensive and famous shipwrecks in Great Lakes history.

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  • On November 10, 1975, the cargo ship Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior, taking all 29 crewmembers with her. The sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald was one of the worst maritime disasters on the Great Lakes.
    The Edmund Fitzgerald left the port of Superior, Wisconsin, the day before the tragedy. It was carrying 26,116 long tons of iron ore to be processed in Detroit, Michigan. Increasingly stormy weather forced the ship to seek refuge in Whitefish Bay, between the twin cities of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada.
    The weather on Lake Superior quickly turned violent as the ship reached the bay. The Edmund Fitzgerald faced winds gusting up to 50 knots (58 miles per hour), and waves cresting as high as 5 meters (16 feet). It probably hit a sandbar and suffered damage to its lower hull. The ship also encountered “three sisters,” a series of rogue waves reaching as high as 10 meters (35 feet).The ship lost radar, began listing to one side, and reported taking on increasing amounts of water before losing contact with a nearby ship.
    The tragedy of the Edmund Fitzgerald resulted in major changes to safety regulations for ships traveling on the Great Lakes. Cargo ships are now required to use depth finders, survival suits are part of every ship’s mandatory safety kit, and the shipping network now has sophisticated GPS technology to better track ships and their crews.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    bay Noun

    body of water partially surrounded by land, usually with a wide mouth to a larger body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: bay
    cargo Noun

    goods carried by a ship, plane, or other vehicle.

    crest Noun

    the top of a wave.

    damage Noun

    harm that reduces usefulness or value.

    Global Positioning System (GPS) Noun

    system of satellites and receiving devices used to determine the location of something on Earth.

    Great Lakes Noun

    largest freshwater bodies in the world, located in the United States and Canada. Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, and Lake Superior make up the Great Lakes.

    gust Noun

    sudden, strong wind.

    hull Noun

    main body of a ship.

    iron Noun

    chemical element with the symbol Fe.

    list Verb

    to lean to one side, usually referring to a ship.

    mandatory Adjective


    maritime Adjective

    having to do with the ocean.

    network Noun

    series of links along which movement or communication can take place.

    ore Noun

    deposit in the Earth of minerals containing valuable metal.

    Encyclopedic Entry: ore
    port Noun

    place on a body of water where ships can tie up or dock and load and unload cargo.

    Encyclopedic Entry: port
    radar Noun

    (RAdio Detection And Ranging) method of determining the presence and location of an object using radio waves.

    refuge Noun

    shelter or protection from danger.

    regulation Noun

    rule or law.

    rogue wave Noun

    unusually large wave not associated with a storm system or tsunami. Also called a freak wave, monster wave, or extreme wave.

    sandbar Noun

    underwater or low-lying mound of sand formed by tides, waves, or currents.

    shipping Noun

    transportation of goods, usually by large boat.

    storm Noun

    severe weather indicating a disturbed state of the atmosphere resulting from uplifted air.

    technology Noun

    the science of using tools and complex machines to make human life easier or more profitable.

    tragedy Noun

    very sad event.

    violent Noun

    strong, destructive force.

    wave Noun

    moving swell on the surface of water.

    weather Noun

    state of the atmosphere, including temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind, humidity, precipitation, and cloudiness.

    Encyclopedic Entry: weather