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 12:38 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