The Great Lakes have claimed countless thousands of vessels over the course of history, but its biggest and most famous victim was the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, the largest ship of its day to sail the Great Lakes and still the largest to lie below Lake Superior's murky depths.
The giant ore freighter was intentionally built "within a foot of the maximum length allowed for passage through the soon-to-be completed Saint Lawrence Seaway." But despite its commercial purpose, the Edmund Fitzgerald was also one of the most luxurious ships to ever set sail in the Great Lakes. One person who sailed aboard the ship recounted, "Stewards treated the guests to the entire VIP routine. The cuisine was reportedly excellent and snacks were always available in the lounge.
A small but well stocked kitchenette provided the drinks. Once each trip, the captain held a candlelight dinner for the guests, complete with mess-jacketed stewards and special 'clamdigger' punch. Indeed, when it was completed in 1957, the Edmund Fitzgerald was nearly 730 feet long and dubbed "Queen of the Lakes", and it was so popular that people would wait along the shores to catch a glimpse of the famous boat.
The ship had already earned various safety awards and never suffered a serious problem when it set sail from Superior, Wisconsin with over 26,000 tons of freight on November 9, 1975 and headed for a steel mill near Detroit.
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- Nicholas J. Rohrer