The Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975 — 48 years ago.
A 1995 dive to recover the ship's bell captured footage of the wreck 535 feet below Superior's surface.
The freighter lives on in popular culture thanks to Gordon Lightfoot's folk song about the ship.
The S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald — the eponymous ship memorialized in Gordon Lightfoot's 1976 folk song — sank in a November gale on Lake Superior 48 years ago this month.
The Great Lakes freighter went down on November 10, 1975, amid blustering winds and powerful waves, killing all 29 people on board.
Nearly five decades later, the Fitzgerald remains one of the most famous shipwrecks in American history, thanks in large part to Lightfoot's six-minute song released just months after the ship sank, which detailed the vessel's final hours.
A dive to recover the ship's bell in 1995 captured footage of the wreck on the bottom of Lake Superior.
The Edmund Fitzgerald was built to be the largest ship on the Great Lakes.
The freighter was conceived by Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company of Milwaukee and the Great Lakes Engineering Works of Ecorse, Michigan, to be the largest bulk carrier in the region, according to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.
The Fitzgerald launched in June 1958 and was named for the president and chairman of the Board of Northwestern Mutual.
It remained the largest vessel on the Great Lakes until 1971.
The vessel was 729 feet and weighed 13,632 gross tons.
She typically traveled between Silver Bay, Minnesota, and the lower lakes in the Detroit and Toledo area, the museum said.
The Fitzgerald left Superior, Wisconsin around 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 9, 1975.
The ship was carrying more than 25,000 tons of taconite pellets to Zug Island, Detroit, Michigan.
The ship set off on its final journey as a powerful November gale was building.
Captain Ernest M. McSorley decided to take the northerly course across Lake Superior, believing the highlands on the Canadian shore would protect the vessel, according to the museum.
Already perilous weather conditions quickly worsened on November 10, with winds at 50 knots and the seas reaching 16 feet.
Around 3:30 p.m. on November 10, McSorley first reported damage on the Fitzgerald.
Captain McSorley contacted Captain Bernie Cooper of the Arthur M. Anderson, which had departed Two Harbors, Minnesota, on November 9 and was in radio contact with the Fitzgerald, according to the museum.
McSorley reported that the Fitzgerald had a fence rail down and some damaged vents.
Crew members aboard the Anderson kept watch on the radar set to track the Fitzgerald's path, but kept losing sight of the vessel because the waves were so high, according to the museum.
Final contact from the Fitzgerald came around 7:10 p.m.
A crew member on the Anderson spoke to the Fitzgerald one last time that evening before the vessel disappeared from the radar about five minutes later, the museum said.
All 29 men onboard died.
The Anderson later discovered the Fitzgerald's two lifeboats in the water.
In the days after the storm, the Coast Guard conducted an extensive search for the missing ship and located some large wreckage from the ship, according to the museum.
But it wasn't until the following year that officials confirmed the site of the wreck having discovered the ship's stern 535 feet below the lake's surface, according to the museum.
Investigators later said the Fitzgerald was in "the worst possible place at the worst possible time."
The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point hosts an annual memorial service each November to honor the lives lost when the Fitzgerald went down.
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