The wreck of the edmund fitzgerald

On November 10, 1975 one of the best known maritime tragedies in modern history occurred on Lake Superior when the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank during a strong storm. Because I (Nina) have such an emotional reaction to this story, this week’s episode was written by Gemma Harris, audio editing by Chaesare Gray.

This incident was immortalized in song, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald was written, composed and performed by Gordon Lightfoot, who is out on tour again this year.

The wreck is also taught in some grade school Michigan history classes.


While the podcast gives a history of the ship and details of her last days, there is far more to the lives and stories of these fathers, sons, brothers, husbands and their families. If you’d like to know more, I encourage you to explore the individual stories of the Fitzgerald’s crew as follows:

37 year old Michael Armagost, the third mate from Iron River, Wisconsin

56 year old Frederick Beetcher, a porter from Superior, Wisconsin

23 year old Thomas Bentsen, an oiler from St Joseph, Michigan

47 year old Edward Bindon, a first assistant engineer from Fairport Harbour, Ohio

40 year old Thomas Borgeson, a maintenance worker from Duluth, Minnesota

41 year old Oliver Champeau, a third assistant engineer from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

55 year old Nolan Church, a porter from Silver Bay, Minnesota

53 year old Ransom Cundy, a watchman from Superior, Wisconsin

50 year old Thomas Edwards, a second assistant engineer from Oregon, Ohio

40 year old Russell Haskell, a second assistant engineer from Millbury, Ohio

60 year old George Holl, a chief engineer from Cabot, Pennsylvania

22 year old Bruce Hudson, a deck hand from North Olmsted, Ohio

43 year old Allen Kalmon, a cook from Washburn, Wisconsin

30 year old Gordon MacLellan, a wiper from Clearwater, Florida

59 year old Joseph Mazes, a maintenance worker from Ashland, Wisconsin

62 year old John ‘Jack’ McCarthy, the first mate from Bay Village, Ohio

63 year old captain Ernest McSorley, from Toledo, Ohio

50 year old Eugene O’Brien, a wheelsman from Toledo, Ohio

20 year old Karl Peckol, a watchman from Ashtabula, Ohio

59 year old John Poviach, a wheelsman from Bradenton, Florida

44 year old James Pratt, the second mate from Lakewood, Ohio

62 year old Robert Rafferty, a steward and cook from Toledo, Ohio

22 year old Paul Riippa, a deck hand from Ashtabula, Ohio

62 year old John Simmons, a wheelsman from Ashland, Wisconsin

59 year old William Spengler, a watchman from Toledo, Ohio

21 year old Mark Thomas, a deck hand from Richmond Heights, Ohio

58 year old Ralph Walton, an oiler from Fremont, Ohio

22 year old David Weiss, a cadet from Agoura, California

52 year old Blaine Wilhem, an oiler from Moquah, Wisconsin

Resource list


Hultquist, T., Dutter, M. & Schweb, D. (2006). Re-examination of the 9-10 November 1975 ‘Edmund Fitzgerald’ Storm Using Today’s Technology. American Meteorological Society.

Rice, D. 10 Nov 2015. ‘40 years ago, the ‘Witch of November’ sank the Edmund Fitzgerald’. USA Today.

McLeod, J. ‘Beware of the “November Witch!” Farmers Almanac.


Brissette, J. & Newton-Matza, M. (2014). Disasters & Tragic Events, by M. Newton-Matza, (ed). ABC-CLIO.