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The Gales of November Came Early
Tuesday, 10 November, marks the fortieth anniversary of the loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior. The largest vessel on the Great Lakes when it was launched in the mid-1950s, this iron-ore freighter hit a surprise storm on route from Superior (near Duluth) to Detroit in November of 1975 and went down with her entire 29-member crew. In addition to the many lives lost, the never-solved mystery of what ultimately brought the Fitzgerald down has made this tragedy one of the touchstones of shipwreck lore, inspiring countless news stories, books, and even a top-ten song by Gordon Lightfoot that, over the course of six tortuous minutes, will have you raising your tankard of beer to the lost crew. The sites of two of the memorial services dedicated to this somber anniversary—the Mariners' Church of Detroit and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Whitefish Bay—as well as the history of other places associated with shipping on Lakes Michigan, Erie, Huron, and Superior, are recounted in the revised edition of the Buildings of Michigan by Kathryn Bishop Eckert, part of the Buildings of the United States series published by the University of Virginia Press in association with the Society of Architectural Historians. Subscribers of the architectural-history archive SAH Archipedia may view this content online (for non-subscribers, Archipedia is available for free trial).