A Brief History
On November 10, 1975, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior, taking the 29 men aboard to a watery grave. The most famous shipwreck on the Great Lakes, largely because of the smash hit song by Gordon Lightfoot, the Edmund Fitzgerald is not the only notable casualty of the Great Lakes, so today we list a couple of those other freshwater disasters.
SS Leecliffe Hall sank in 1964 with three deaths after colliding with a Greek freighter in the St. Lawrence Seaway. The 730 foot long, 18,071 ton ship was hauling 24,500 tons of iron ore, making her the biggest ship to sink in the Great Lakes system, a foot longer than Edmund Fitzgerald.
PS Lady Elgin sank in Lake Michigan in 1860, after a collision with a schooner. A sidewheel wooden steamship, Lady Elgin was only 252 feet long, but the deaths of over 300 of her passengers makes her sinking the deadliest in Great Lakes history.
Question for students (and subscribers): Have you ever sailed on the Great Lakes? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Lardinois, Anna. Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes: Tragedies and Legacies from the Inland Seas. Globe Pequot, 2021.
Ratigan, William. Great Lakes: Shipwrecks & Survivals. William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1977.
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