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The Real Facts Behind The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald - How Much Do You Know?

Updated on November 10, 2015
Photo taken by Bob Campbell and courtesy of the Shipwreck Museum
Photo taken by Bob Campbell and courtesy of the Shipwreck Museum | Source

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald. This event occurred at Lake Superior, November 10, 1975, and tragically claimed the lives of every crewmen aboard the great commercial bulk carrier. Although many scientific and rational theories about the cause of this maritime tragedy have been proposed, no one theory has yet been universally accepted to explain the ship's demise. The event has since became the stuff of legend, and is probably most widely known as the inspiration for the hit ballad by Gordon Lightfoot, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald".

Although the legends and song lyrics about the event are sometimes accepted as the last words on the tragedy, some of the facts are not so universally recognized. The following quiz will test your knowledge of the genuine facts as they are presently known. If you wish to take the quiz,simply take out paper and pencil or pen and mark your paper 1-12. Proceed to the Questions section and read the first question, then select your answer from among the three possible answers provided and write this down. Continue through the rest of the Questions section in this manner. After this section, scroll down until you come to the Answers section, and here you will find the correct answers.

I hope you enjoy the quiz and good luck!


1. After its construction, the Edmund Fitzgerald was the largest ship for the next thirteen years where?

A. The Great Lakes

B. The North Atlantic

C. The Gulf of Mexico

2. What kind of cargo was the Edmund Fitzgerald loaded with on her last voyage?

A. Silver bars and copper pellets

B. Pig iron pallets

C. Taconite pellets (iron ore)

3 How many crew men perished aboard the Edmund Fitzgerald?

A. 39

B. 29

C. 19

4. Her final voyage began where?

A. Superior Gateway, Dock #3 at Niagara Head, Lake Erie

B. Jules & Jules General Port, Michigan

C. Burlington Northern Railroad Dock #1 at Superior, Wisconsin

5. Who was the acting Captain who went down with the Edmund Fitzgerald?

A. Bernie Cooper

B. Ernest M. McSorley

C. Stanley Lawson

6. Wind gusts on Superior the fateful day were recorded at how many knots?

A. 50

B. 25

C. 90

7. Where was the Edmund Fitzgerald headed to on that last voyage?

A. Zug Island, Detroit

B. Crimson Port, Cleveland

C. Silver Bay, Minnesota

8. When the Captain realized the ship was in trouble, what destination did he have the ship re-directed toward?

A. Gull Isle

B. Whitefish Point

C. Whale’s Head Shoal

9. Which regular crew member, mentioned in Lightfoot’s ballad, was actually not on board the day of the wreck due to illness? Hint: According to the song this member’s last words were, “Fellas, it’s been good to know ya.”

A. The first mate

B. The cook

C. The captain

10. In testimony given by the captain of the SS Arthur M. Anderson, he and his shipmates saw what take the Edmund Fitzgerald?

A. A tremendously high wave

B. An unidentified flying object partially cloaked in lightning

C. A whirlpool of extraordinary size

11. Where was the memorial service for the victims of the wreck held?

A. The Mariners’ Church of Detroit

B. The Maritime Sailors Cathedral in Cleveland

C. The Mariners’ Cathedral of Wisconsin

12. The bell of the Edmund Fitzgerald was retrieved from the ship’s last resting place on what day?

A. December 25, 2001

B. January 1, 1999

C. July 4, 1995


1. A. The Great Lakes

2. C. Taconite pellets (iron ore)

3. B. 29

4. C. Burlington Northern Railroad Dock #1 at Superior, Wisconsin

5. B. Ernest M. McSorley

6. A. 50

7. A. Zug Island, Detroit

8. B. Whitefish Point

9. B. The cook

10. A. A tremendously high wave

11. A. The Mariners’ Church of Detroit

12. C. July 4, 1995

Readers seeking more historical information about the SS Edmund Fitzgerald may be interested in visiting the The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum online

This Hub ©November 10, 2015 by Beth Perry

"The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot


Submit a Comment
  • bethperry profile imageAUTHOR

    Beth Perry 

    5 years ago from Tennesee

    Hi Larry! I had a granddad who worked on the railroad, so yeah I know exactly what you're talking about! Good times.

    Thanks much for dropping in and reading!

  • maven101 profile image

    Larry Conners 

    5 years ago from Northern Arizona

    Hi Beth...Been a while...Just getting back into HubPages and catching up on my fav writers...Interesting subject, a real Great Lakes mystery...I remember reading something about one of the crewmen failing to properly secure one of the hatches containing the taconite pellets which allowed a rogue wave to bring the ship down...As an aside, taconite pellets are great for shooting slingshots...As a kid we would hunt small game with them...they were used for rail bedding ...We had several railroads running through our area so we had a plentiful supply of ammo...Larry

  • bethperry profile imageAUTHOR

    Beth Perry 

    5 years ago from Tennesee

    Chantelle, I imagine that is one of those events one just can't shake off, especially if it happens close to you. Thanks much for dropping by to read!

  • bethperry profile imageAUTHOR

    Beth Perry 

    5 years ago from Tennesee

    billybuc, you're very welcome, and thanks for dropping by!

  • Chantelle Porter profile image

    Chantelle Porter 

    5 years ago from Ann Arbor

    Wonderful article. I'm originally from the UP and remember distinctly the day it happened.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    5 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I knew the song and that was it, so thanks for adding to my education.


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