50th anniversary of the launch of the S. S. Edmund Fitzgerald

May 28, 2008

Hull 301 Launch 3

Hull 301 Launch 3, photo courtesy The Open Lake Group, LLC

I was initially going to use another photo of the Edmund Fitzgerald for this post, but when I asked about that one, Wade showed me this one from the launch of “Hull 301″. How cool is it that I would happen to contact someone who had an unpublished photo of the launch? You can see a couple more photos from the launch (including one that shows the huge crowd) in his Edmund Fitzgerald set.

Saturday June 7th marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of what’s probably the most well known Great Lakes ship. Over on Absolute Michigan, SSEdmundFitzgerald.com posted “Celebrating the launch of the S. S. Edmund Fitzgerald”. Reading it made me realize that our remembrance of what was once the largest ship ever to ply the Great Lakes ignores almost two decades of service and countless hours of hard work and craftsmanship.

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon on June 7th, 1958, as more than 10,000 people lined the banks of the Detroit River. They had come to witness the launching of Hull 301 at the Great Lakes Engineering Works of River Rouge, Michigan. Mrs. Edmund Fitzgerald, wife of the president of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company for which the ship was named, christened the brand new ship and at 12:34 p.m. the 729 ft. “Edmund Fitzgerald” slid gracefully into the basin amid cheers, salutes, and well wishers.

For many of those in attendance, it was a spectacle that they would never forget.

The shipyard workers who constructed “Big Fitz” felt a deep sense of satisfaction as they anxiously watched the launch of this marvelous vessel. Being a prideful lot, they often endured long hours and harsh conditions. This was their “crowning achievement” and the beauty of their craftsmanship was truly evident to all those present.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of that memorable event. It is an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate a joyous time in our lives. It is also a chance to recall the great pride and cherished memories experienced by the ship workers, the community, and all who had the opportunity to witness the launching of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

On this historic occasion, let us joyously share our personal stories, renew old friendships, and fondly remember the day when the “Queen Of The Lakes” was born.
June 7, 2008 Detroit MI

Great Lakes Ship Builders (Detroit Area) host the 50th Anniversary of the Edmund Fitzgerald Launch and Down River Celebration from 11 AM – 4 PM on Saturday, June 7 2008. The celebration will include a chance to meet the designers and others who worked on the Fitz, workshops on shipbuilders, and ships built in the downriver during the last 200 years. There will also be a Salute to Excellence Award, launch commemoration, and lots of art and artists. For more information, call Roscoe at 810 955-4305 (and poke around SSEdmundFitzgerald.com).

As often, there’s a Wikipedia entry for the SS Edmund Fitzgerald and you can see a gallery of photos from the building of the Fitz and this Zapruder-class video of the launch of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

15 Responses to “50th anniversary of the launch of the S. S. Edmund Fitzgerald”

  1. Patrick B. Pointer Says:

    LOCAL ARTIST AND PASTOR TO UNVEIL GREAT LAKES MARITIME ART

    Northern Michigan artist and Pastor of Manistee Assembly of God, Patrick B. Pointer, will be unveiling his most recent Great Lakes Maritime Art Carvings as the Official Carvings of the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Launching of the Edmund Fitzgerald being held at the Lake Erie Metro Park in Gibraltar, Michigan on Saturday, June 7, from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.

    “The first piece is entitled “Fare Thee Well,” to honor those who had anything to do with the ship, from the building to her final hours and to us today who remember those who have come before us,” said Pointer. You will see the “Fitz” passing the Great Lakes Engineering Works, where she was built and launched as Hull #301. The record breaking “Mighty Fitz” was the largest ship on the Great Lakes when she was launched and one of the most well known ships of the past fifty years. The second piece is entitled “Farewell,” an original carving of the Edmund Fitzgerald on that tragic night in November of 1975.

    “I am honored to have my artwork as the Official Carvings of the 50th Anniversary of the Launching of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” This event has been brought together to honor those who designed, engineered, and built the ship and launched it in 1958. There will be many of these men and their families on hand as well as family members of those who served on the “Fitz.”

    “This type of artwork is different from most,” Pointer explained. “It is like painting with wood… just as an oil or acrylic painter would paint in their medium yet instead of using brushes, paint, and canvas, I use chisels, knives and solid wood to create an almost photographic image.” “Like Thomas Kinkade, I use light as my source to emulate the entire piece, drawing the viewer into an experience for themselves.” From start to finish, light is important to these pieces. Unlike a painting however, these three dimensional carvings completely change from whatever angle you look at them.

    Pointer, an accomplished artist carved professionally in the 80’s and 90’s before becoming a full time pastor. His accomplished works have shown across the United States and Canada in waterfowl carving competitions and in automotive artwork in places such as the Ward Foundation World Competition in Ocean City, Maryland to the REO Oldsmobile Museum in Lansing Michigan.

    “Due to raising a family and pasturing in churches, I have been too busy to carve professionally until now, carving for me has always been a stress outlet and I am blessed to be able to start carving again and honored to be involved in these upcoming events and more.”

    Pointer, was himself inspired at a young age by artwork throughout our country’s museums, from Mystic Seaport in Massachusetts, to the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle in Detroit and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point, to name just a few. “It is my desire to inspire those of all generations young and old to preserve our heritage and understand our history and where we have come from, lest we forget.” His art will draw you into the scene to experience a moment in time for yourself.

    For more information you may contact him at revpdog@hotmail.com or (231) 233-6621

  2. farlane Says:

    Cool comment over here on Leelanau.com by a welder’s assistant on the Fitz about the process of working on the ship (awesome Edmund Fitzgerald video too!)

  3. 50 Years Says:

    SHINING A LIGHT ON HIDDEN TRUTHS

    In the recent past I do recall that President George Walker Bush spoke of a “THOUSAND POINTS OF LIGHT” to further the progress of our great country. My interpretation of his intent was that the generation of such light should come from our able citizenry, and mainly through daily contributions in thought, word and deed to our society…and most notably in the form of volunteerism.

    Many of us have responded and experienced success or failure, together with criticism having either justified or unjustified bases. In the latter case, some unwarranted criticism has been based on rumor filling a vacuous state of disinformation and a general lack of appreciation regarding our motivational goals…especially when directed at our volunteer group known as CASUALTY RESEARCH ASSOCIATES (CRA). We are composed of senior citizens having comprehensive technical credentials and experience in the maritime field and, as retirees of sound mind, we have freedom of thought and action unrestricted by management constraints affecting income and tenure.

    While one of our initial goals was to develop an objective three-part “cradle-to-the-grave” historical documentary covering the development, construction and operation of S.S. EDMUND FITZGERALD, our investigatory efforts have experienced considerable difficulty for reasons not fully expressed by knowledgeable persons ranging from the shipyard tradesmen to executive and government regulatory levels. (i.e. “Gag” orders prevalent).

    Based on these circumstances our original investigatory scope has been expanded to encompass “We don’t know what we didn’t know” avenues that have led to startling legerdemain discoveries in our self-motivated search for truth.

    For instance, I find it alarming that some communications, without expressed justifiable cause, have even threatened court action with regard to the honoring of Great Lakes SHIPBUILDERS (of FITZGERALD and other vessels) at an event scheduled for June 7, 2008 in Gibraltar, Michigan.

    And, most regrettably, a recognized clergy member has voiced incongruous opinions that our voluntary efforts should be terminated because:

    (a) “Some FITZGERALD crew families have raised objections”
    (b) “No one is interested in the TRUTH?!!!”

    To whom it may concern:

    We have no plans to extinguish our uncompensated volunteer “Point of Light” beacon that will continue to shine until unbiased truth, or justifiable termination cause, is forthcoming.

    Thank you.

    Raymond Ramsay-Naval Architect
    And Author “For Whom the Bells Toll”
    (ISBN-13: 978-0-8099-6914-6)
    (ISBN-10: 0-8059-6914-4)

  4. 50 Year Says:

    June 7th 2008
    Gibraltar Historical Museum
    Lake Erie Metropark
    11 am to 4pm
    Free History Event

    The Lake Erie Metropark will be hosting a Downriver Historical Event and Celebration featuring the 50th Anniversary of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald. This will also include workshops on shipbuilders, ships built in Gibraltar and downriver in the last 200 years. There will be a Salute to Excellence Award, Meet the Designers and Ship Builders Launch Commemoration and lots of Art and Artists. This historical event will be hosted at the Marshlands Museum and Nature Center and the Gibraltar Historical Museum will also be a part of this celebration day with Special Hours of 11am to 4pm Saturday.

    Please contact Roscoe Clark at (810)955-4305, Debbie Davenport at (734)692-8901 or check website http://www.ssEdmundFitzgerald.com for more information.

    1234


  5. [...] Years ago today the most infamous vessel of the Great Lakes was launched. Farlane [...]


  6. November 10, 2009
    Edmund Fitzgerald Service in River Rouge – November 10, 2009
    S. S. Edmund Fitzgerald 4th service in River Rouge, Michigan
    6:00 pm to 8:00 pm November 10, 2009

    Edmund Fitzgerald, crew to be remembered Tuesday

    Each year, in honour of the Edmund Fitgerald crew, a bell is rung 29 times during ‘ Last Watch Ceremony.’ The 30th ring is for all mariners lost on the Great Lakes.
    Admission to the Edmund Fitzgerald Service is free. For more information call 810 519-2148


  7. November 10 – Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Service
    . A memorial service for the men lost on the Edmund Fitzgerald will be held on
    November 10 at Dr. Henri Belanger Park in River Rouge, Mi.
    The service will be held near the Mariners Memorial Lighthouse beginning at 6:00 p.m.
    The tug boat will be on hand to take out a wreath to be placed on the river.
    The service will feature a plaque presentation, bell ringing, lantern lighting,
    and refreshments will be served.

    For more information call
    Roscoe Clark at 810-519-2148 or Dolores Swekel 313-842-7822.

    The service will be at River Rouge Michigan on the Detroit River next to where the ship was
    built at the slips and on the other side is where Zug Island is located.
    MAP

    A special Edmund Fitzgerald open house

    will be open to the pubic from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm at the River Rouge Historical Museum

    River Rouge Historical Museum
    10750 W. Jefferson Ave.
    River Rouge, Michigan 48218
    (Formerly Gallagher Funeral Home)
    MAP


  8. Meet Daughter of ROBERT C. RAFFERTY

    I am honored and excited to be invited to attend the upcoming service held this
    November 10th in River Rouge.I will be coming from Kansas to honor my dad and the other
    28 crewmen.My father was the ” Old Cook” referred to in the Gordon Lightfoot song.
    There will be so many events having to do with the FITZ I hope to be able to fit it all in.
    I think it’s great to include the school kids learning about the Great Lakes and the ships
    that have sailed on them.
    I grew up in Toledo Ohio and watched from many ports my dads ship sail off with a load
    of iron ore or coal. Those good memories never go away. Hope to see you there.
    All are welcome to honor and remember that fateful night.

    Pam Johnson
    Daughter of ROBERT C. RAFFERTY


  9. SHINING A LIGHT ON HIDDEN TRUTHS

    In the recent past I do recall that President George Walker Bush spoke of a “THOUSAND POINTS OF LIGHT” to further the progress of our great country. My interpretation of his intent was that the generation of such light should come from our able citizenry, and mainly through daily contributions in thought, word and deed to our society…and most notably in the form of volunteerism.

    Many of us have responded and experienced success or failure, together with criticism having either justified or unjustified bases. In the latter case, some unwarranted criticism has been based on rumor filling a vacuous state of disinformation and a general lack of appreciation regarding our motivational goals…especially when directed at our volunteer group known as CASUALTY RESEARCH ASSOCIATES (CRA). We are composed of senior citizens and other having comprehensive technical credentials and experience in the maritime field and, as retirees of sound mind, we have freedom of thought and action unrestricted by management constraints affecting income and tenure.

    While one of our initial goals was to develop an objective three-part “cradle-to-the-grave” historical documentary covering the development, construction and operation of S.S. EDMUND FITZGERALD, our investigatory efforts have experienced considerable difficulty for reasons not fully expressed by knowledgeable persons ranging from the shipyard tradesmen to executive and government regulatory levels. (i.e. “Gag” orders prevalent).

    Based on these circumstances our original investigatory scope has been expanded to encompass “We don’t know what we didn’t know” avenues that have led to startling legerdemain discoveries in our self-motivated search for truth.


  10. November 10, 2010
    Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Service in River Rouge
    S. S. Edmund Fitzgerald 5th Service in River Rouge, Michigan
    6:00 pm to 8:00 pm Wednesday November 10, 2010
    Edmund Fitzgeral Video


  11. PRESS RELEASE
    35th Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Service
    RIVER ROUGE, MICHIGAN — A memorial service is planned for Wednesday November 10, 2010 to remember the 29 men who died when the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior on Nov. 10, 1975.

    The ceremony is set for 6 to 8 p.m. near the Mariners Memorial Lighthouse at Belanger Park, off Belanger Park Drive and Marion.

    The event is held in River Rouge because that’s the city where the vessel was built in 1957 and ’58.

    Several speakers will give their memories of the ship, including people who helped construct it and relatives of some of the deceased crewmen.

    Artifacts and photographs also will be on display.

    At 7:10 p.m. — the time the ship sank — a wreath will be tossed into the Detroit River. A bell will be rung 29 times in memory of each person who died.

    A plaque presentation and lantern lighting is planned. Refreshments will be provided at the end.

    Event organizer Roscoe Clark has a Web site devoted to the vessel, which contains several video clips, photos and new information about the ship, at http://www.ssEdmundFitzgerald.com

    Earlier in the day, an Edmund Fitzgerald open house will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. at the River Rouge Historical Museum, 10750 W. Jefferson Ave.
    http://www.RiverRougeMuseum.com

    For more information on either event, visit the Web site or call Clark at 1-810-519-2148 or Dolores Swekel at 1-313-842-7822.


  12. [...] be interested &#1110n th&#1110&#1109 photo &#1072nd tab &#959f the launch &#959f the SS Edmund Fitzgerald &#959n Michigan &#1110n [...]


  13. [...] Photos from the launch of the Edmund Fitzgerald on June 7th, 1958 and an account of the Edmund Fitzgerald’s maiden season [...]


  14. S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald 37 Year Anniversary November 10, 2012
    RIVER ROUGE — A memorial service is planned for Saturday November 10, 2012 to remember the 29 men who died when the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior on Nov. 10, 1975. The ceremony is set for 6 to 8 p.m. and the heated tent open at 4:30 p.m. for viewing Edmund Fitzgerald artifacts, near the Mariners Memorial Lighthouse at Belanger Park, off Belanger Park Drive and Marion. The event is held in River Rouge because that’s the city where the vessel was built in 1957 and ’58. Several speakers will give their memories of the ship, including people who helped construct it and relatives of some of the deceased crewmen. Artifacts, photographs and videos also will be on display and you can talk to the Fitz Ship Builders, past Crew Members and Fitz Family Members. At 7:10 p.m. — the time the ship sank — a wreath will be tossed into the Detroit River. A bell will be rung 29 times in memory of each person who died. A plaque presentation and lantern lighting is planned. Food and Refreshments will be provided free of charge. Event organizer Roscoe Clark has a Web site devoted to the vessel, which contains several video clips and photos of the ship. Earlier in the day, an Edmund Fitzgerald open house will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. at the River Rouge Historical Museum, 10750 W. Jefferson Ave. This year, the service will be web cast free of charge for those viewers all across the US and Canada. For more information and location call Roscoe Clark at (810) 519-2148. This is a special program held each year and is free of charge. All new this year.

  15. roscoe Says:

    S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald 38 Year Anniversary
    November 10, 2013
    RIVER ROUGE — A memorial service is planned for Sunday November 10, 2013 to remember the 29 men who died when the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior on Nov. 10, 1975.
    The ceremony is set for 6 to 8 p.m. and the heated tent open at 4:30 p.m. for viewing Edmund Fitzgerald artifacts, near the Mariners Memorial Lighthouse at Belanger Park, off Belanger Park Drive and Marion.
    The event is held in River Rouge because that’s the city where the vessel was built in 1957 and ’58.
    Several speakers will give their memories of the ship, including people who helped construct it and relatives of some of the deceased crewmen.
    Artifacts, photographs and videos also will be on display and you can talk to the Fitz Ship Builders, past Crew Members and Fitz Family Members.
    At 7:10 p.m. — the time the ship sank — a wreath will be tossed into the Detroit River. A bell will be rung 29 times in memory of each person who died.
    A plaque presentation and lantern lighting is planned. Food and Refreshments will be provided free of charge.
    Event organizer Roscoe Clark has a Web site devoted to the vessel, which contains several video clips and photos of the ship.
    Earlier in the day, an Edmund Fitzgerald open house will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. at the River Rouge Historical Museum, 10750 W. Jefferson Ave.
    This year, the service will be web cast free of charge for those viewers all across the US and Canada.


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