The Edmund Fitzgerald Shipwreck

“The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald”

“The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee

The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy

With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty

That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early

The ship was the pride of the American side
Coming back from some mill in Wisconsin

As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most
With a crew and good captain well seasoned

Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
When they left fully loaded for Cleveland

Then later that night when the ship’s bell rang
Could it be the north wind they’d been feelin’?

The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
When the wave broke over the railing

And every man knew, as the captain did too
‘Twas the witch of November come stealin’

The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
When the gales of November came slashin’

When afternoon came it was freezing rain
In the face of a hurricane west wind

When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck
Sayin’ “Fellas, it’s too rough to feed ya”

At seven PM a main hatchway caved in
He said, “Fellas, it’s been good to know ya”

The captain wired in he had water comin’ in
And the good ship and crew was in peril

And later that night when his lights went out of sight
Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Does anyone know where the love of God goes
When the waves turn the minutes to hours?

The searchers all say they’d have made Whitefish Bay
If they’d put fifteen more miles behind her

They might have split up or they might have capsized
They may have broke deep and took water

And all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the wives and the sons and the daughters

Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
In the rooms of her ice-water mansion

Old Michigan steams like a young man’s dreams
The islands and bays are for sportsmen

And farther below, Lake Ontario
Takes in what Lake Erie can send her

And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
With the gales of November remembered

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed
In the Maritime Sailors’ Cathedral

The church bell chimed ’til it rang twenty-nine times
For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee

Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early”

(All lyrics belong to Gordon Lightfoot, Edmund Fitzgerald, 1976)

I am deeply touched today by the thought of the Edmund Fitzgerald, the fact of 29 lives cut short, and the thought of the freezing cold fear those men must have felt that evening 40 years ago tonight. It also is a song which I remember hearing many times during my junior high and high school years. At that time I really didn’t know much. but just knew there was a shipwreck.

The lines that strike me the most are “Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?” Well, I sure can’t answer that, except to say that I believe God allows bad things to happen to good people and we can’t comprehend that. Sin entered the world and it happens. We all die. But he does love us, and he loved those men and their families. He was holding them in their fear in their last minutes, I am SURE of that.

As the icy waves encapsulated them, the warm hands of Jesus would shelter them if they just called His name.

I pray that they felt the closeness of God in their last moments of life. I watched a video today about the wreck, and noticed that the men were from 20 years of age all the way up to 63. I can only imagine what they went through in those freezing cold waters of Lake Superior. Trying to wrap my head around how violent it can get out there…80 mile an hour winds and 25 foot waves…that’s a hurricane. Very sad for the families, but we can only hope they had friends and other family to surround them in their sorrow.

The other part of the song which touches me is, “The church bell chimed ’till it rang twenty-nine times for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.” People got together to pray. They trusted, and gave the outcome to God the Father. They surrendered. They hoped. They didn’t get what they had prayed for, but I can only hope that they came to peace. Sometimes we can’t understand why we don’t get what we want when we pray. But it’s a surrender to the great I AM.

My hope is that we pray more. we pray to the Holy Spirit of God. We turn our hearts to Him. We stand up when others may not stand with us. Times are going to get hard like the ice water mansion of the Superior. Will you be ready to say “I trust Jesus?”

When icy winds blow will I say, “I trust Jesus!”


I thank God that Gordon Lightfoot wrote this song after the wreck, 40 years ago today. It makes us remember, and I will always have this song in my head. Some are too young to remember the wreck or the song, but please listen and always remember.

God is God and we are not. His ways are much higher than our ways, His thoughts much higher than our thoughts. Praise Him for His promises and prophecies that always come true. He has always been faithful in the past so we can trust Him with the future.

About Myrna Folkert

Myrna is an author who desires to use her gifts to glorify God. She's created this blog to tell stories of her childhood, musings about life, motherless daughters, grief and loss, faith in God, her family history, and facts about the Long QT syndrome. She also has a hearing condition called Tinnitus. Doing interviews with motherless daughters like herself are of great interest. Join in discussions by following this blog and commenting. She would love to hear your stories about life. Myrna is a Christ follower, wife, mother, sister, friend, aunt, and cousin. She was an elementary school teacher for 27 years; now works in her church, and a few other volunteer activities such as Hospice doing "Life Reviews" and Vigils. Myrna loves to read, write, listen to music, go to concerts, and take pictures. Her favorite pastime is boating with her husband near the beautiful shores of West Michigan.
This entry was posted in Edmund Fitzgerald shipwreck, faith, fear, God's faithfulness, God's protection, Gordon Lightfoot, Memories, prayer, trust, trust in God and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Edmund Fitzgerald Shipwreck

  1. Patricia J Sabin says:

    More & more the older I get, when I hear of someone dying in a tragedy like this, I wonder, hope, & pray they knew Jesus! You captured the same thought I have thought over the years so beautifully! You certainly have a gift of words from God! Beautifully written, Myrna! ❤ ❤


  2. Reblogged this on Tablet of your Heart and commented:

    As my husband and I drove to see huge waves on Lake Michigan today, we thought about this story I wrote about the Edmund Fitzgerald shipwreck.


  3. Duane Joostberns says:

    I agree with Jane!! Blessings, DJ

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jane Klingenberg says:

    Randy was just playing that song on youTube a couple nights ago. It is moving and somber to reflect on that fateful night. Thank you for your thoughts on it, weaving in God’s grace available to us all!

    Liked by 1 person

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