S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald

S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald Text


It's amazing how a seemingly small event in history can affect so many lives in various ways. Take the tragic event of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald that sank in Lake Superior during a powerful storm on November 10, 1975. The people immediately affected by the event was, of course, were the sailor’s immediate family and close friends. These people had to deal with their grief and mourned the loss of those men from that day forward. As news of this even rippled outward it started to affect people who weren’t related to or even friends of the men involved. As the news media told the story the tragedy touched and inspired other people.

One such person was Gordon Lightfoot, a singer/songwriter from Canada, who obviously became inspired enough to write a song about it. The song, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, peaked on the Billboard Top 100 at number 2 on November 20th, 1976, just over one year after the sinking, propelling the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald and its brave crew into legend. The song that Gordon Lightfoot wrote made him famous and from there it is almost unimaginable how many people the song itself affected and inspired through the song.


One person it did inspire, of course, was me. At the time that the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald sank I was four years old and just about three weeks shy of my fifth birthday. I have no memory of the hearing or seeing the event on TV or radio but I do have vague memories of hearing Gordon Lightfoot’s song in my early childhood and how it captured my attention and seared that event into my subconscious to be appreciated at a later, more mature time, in my life.

Fast forward to today, almost 45 years later, and my love for Gordon’s song, having heard it countless times, inspired me to learn more about the tragedy from the historical perspective. I set out on a web search sifting through search results, reading articles, and looking at images. I stumbled upon an article written by Tanda Gmiter that I found particularly compelling. She had in her article a Coast Guard photograph of the Edmund Fitzgerald’s unused life vests apparently taken not long after the sinking. On that canvas bag the name of the Edmund Fitzgerald was painted using a stencil for the lettering. This set the my creative mind churning and I decided to design a digital piece based off that stencil-styled typography from that bag. That, teamed up with my overall interest in the event and the inspiration from Gordon Lightfoot’s song, my S.S Edmund Fitzgerald design was born.


As it turned out my design has become one of my most popular that I have offered on apparel and accessories throughout the United States and Canada. The memory of those lives lost continue to resonate through time inspiring people to immortalize this even it further. It has often made me think of just how fragile life really is; how short it is; and how, even in tragedy, we can raise up our sunken spirits to be turned into something positive.

In many ways it is our creativity that allows us to sort through these difficult things. So I say we all should appreciate and be grateful for everything we have and to live in the moment all the more. Perhaps that’s the essence of tragedy; it makes us stronger, spiritually and emotionally, and in the midst of the life’s storms we can search out find and share Love toward each other. This is perhaps the most godly thing a human being can do.


As one of upLYFT's most popular design the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald design is available on T-Shirts, Sweatshirts, Hoodies, Mugs and Poster Prints.  Below are links to purchase directly from upLYFT.  You may also find select versions of this design on products sold through Amazon.com and Etsy.com.  This makes a great, unique gift, for yourself, a family member or friend. 

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