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What the Gales of November Remember?


Being born and raised in Michigan, it’s hard not to have a fascination with the shipping industry and our Great Lakes. I have traveled around much of this great state my entire life and every time I see one of those big freighters on the our fresh water seas, I feel like a kid on Christmas. I stare and just marvel at the size of those ships. They have been a fascination of mine since I was little and first visited the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie when I was just a little girl. 

After graduating college, something told me that I was going to land a job in the upper Peninsula. In fact, I remember laughing and teasing my mom about it prior to graduation. She always said “You have to stay in Michigan, no moving out of state.” So my response was always, I will get a job in the UP which is start part of Michigan, but just as far away as an out of state job. Wouldn’t ya know it, my first teaching job was in Ishpeming, Mi which is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I lived just outside of Marquette for a year and LOVED every minute of it. 

What brings me to this story is today is the 38th anniversary of the Edmund Fitzgerald. I don’t remember of hearing this tale when I was younger. It wasn’t until I moved to the UP that I truly remember hearing about the Edmund. I may have been told this story, but it just never cemented in  my long term memory until I was much older and living in the Da Yoop (as I like to call the Upper Peninsula). 

One evening in November, I left Ishpeming around 5:00 after work to head back down state for Thanksgiving break. If you have ever traveled along US 28 in November, then you know how restless Superior can appear. It’s a long beautiful stretch between Marquette and Munising of nothing but Superior views and fields of trees. 

I hit Munising around 6:00 or so that evening. It was a dark, drizzly and erie Michigan November night. The radio began to play Gordon Lightfoot’s the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. It’s an erie song about the tale of the Edmund Fitzgerald. I am not sure why this moment sticks out in my head, but it’s been forever cemented into my mind. Maybe it was because I was traveling along the lake they call Gitchi gummi on a cold, erie Upper Peninsula November night. 

I hadn’t thought much of that night until I heard this song being played on the guitar a few years later and after I had left my Upper Peninsula life behind to resettle back down state. It brought tears to my eyes instantly. This song now represents to me my life in the Upper Peninsula. I truly enjoyed my time up there and often stop in my tracks when I hear this song to reminisce about my times along Lake Superior.  

Today is the day the anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald and this whole week, I have been listening to stories of the Edmund as well as the Great storm of 1913. I have been reminiscing about my life in the UP and my love for our maritime industry which has me motivated to learn more about our maritime history and our great lakes.