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 How cool is it that I would happen to contact someone who had an unpublished photo of the launch?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.