Whitefish Point Light

Built: 1861

On Lake Superior at Whitefish Point near Paradise in the north of Michigan's upper peninsula. Hundreds of shipwrecks occurred near here, including that of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald.

On a nice November 9 day in 1975, the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald was on Lake Superior heading from Superior, WI to Detroit. A storm was building in the Great Plains to the southwest. By the time the storm reached Lake Superior on November 10, it had reached hurricane strength. With slight damage to its hatches, the Edmund Fitzgerald was looking for the safe harbor of Michigan's Whitefish Bay, but the Whitefish Point Light was out for the first time in over a century, its generator down because of the storm.

The S.S Arthur M. Anderson was about 10 miles behind the "Big Fitz" and in frequent radio contact with it and monitoring it on radar. Captain McSorley of the Fitzgerald reported to the Anderson that they had lost radar and were taking on water but the pumps were handling it. However, there was no indication of distress nor a call for help. In fact, the last words heard from the Edmund Fitzgerald were, "We are holding our own."

A few minutes later at 7:15pm, the Fitzgerald entered a squall that obscurred it from the Anderson's radar. When the squall cleared 10 minutes later, the Arthur M. Anderson could see the lights of three other ships up to 17 miles away, but it could no longer see the lights of the Edmund Fitzgerald ahead, nor did the Fitz appear on its radar, nor did she respond by radio.

What happened in those few silent minutes remains a mystery. Without putting out any distress call or distress signal, the Edmund Fitzgerald sank 17 miles north of Whitefish Point and its crew of 29 perished.

Several days passed before the wreckage was found. The Edmund Fitzgerald lay about 530 feet below Lake Superior's surface, split in two. The bow section lays upright, and the stern section lays upside down, and the two halves are separated by 170 feet. To this day it is still unknown what brought the demise of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald.

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society Museum is also located here at Whitefish Point. The bell of the Edmund Fitzgerald was salvaged and now resides inside the museum as a memorial to the ship and her crew.

Return to Photo Gallery

Copyright © 1998 - 2007 Kevin G. TeBeest. All rights reserved.
Reproduction by any means, without the express permission of the owner,
is expressly prohibited. School children are permitted to use the photos 
for school projects.

  Go to my weather page.