Split Rock Remembers the Edmund Fitzgerald 35 Years Later

By KBJR News 1

November 10, 2010 Updated Nov 10, 2010 at 11:06 PM CDT

Split Rock Lighthouse (Northland's NewsCenter) - The Split Rock Lighthouse has been decommissioned since 1969, but Wednesday night, the 1000 watt beacon shined once again marking the 35th Anniversary of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sinking in Lake Superior.

The Ship left Superior Harbor on November 9th, 1975 bound for Detroit, Michigan.

"It was traveling more along the north shore here instead of taking the normal shipping route which is more along the Wisconsin coast. It was traveling the north shore because of the storm making its way up to the lake."

70 mile per hour winds, 35 foot waves, blinding snow—the Fitzgerald sank just 17 miles off the shore of whitefish bay, rendering a lighthouse like the Split Rock absolutely useless.

29 men perished that night in the frigid November waters of Lake Superior.

Each year to mark the anniversary, the lighthouse holds a special sunset ceremony.

"Ringing a bell once for each crew member and then a 30th ring for all sailors who went down over the years."

Lighthouse tour guide Ed Maki has been on hand for every ceremony for the past 28 years.

But it is more than just his job to be there today.

"My wife's uncle was on the Fitz so it holds a lot of meaning for not only me but for her family."

Following the ceremony the lighthouse beacon is illuminated in remembrance of those who perished.

But it isn't only lit for just the crew of the Fitzgerald..

"People should remember not only the Fitzgerald but remember there have been over 350 shipwrecks on lake superior and over 1000 men and women have lost their lives on the lakes since the 1850's."

More than 500 people attended this year's event. Along with marking the Fitzgerald's Anniversary, the Lighthouse celebrated its 110th year on the cliff by the lake.

Written for the web by Chris Axelson