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46TH ANNIVERSARY IS TODAY: Mariners' Church in Detroit holding annual service in honor of Edmund Fitzgerald wreck

The ship, also known as 'The Toledo Express,' sank Nov. 10, 1975. Many of the crew members, including Captain Ernest McSorley, were from Toledo.

DETROIT — Editor's note: The above video regarding the 45th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald first aired in Nov. 2020.

Mariners' Church in downtown Detroit is holding its annual observance Sunday of the Edmund Fitzgerald shipwreck. 

The in-person Great Lakes Memorial Service starts at 3 p.m. and will be live-streamed on YouTube. The event remembers all who perished in the roughly 6,000 shipwrecks in the five Great Lakes.

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The Edmund Fitzgerald is often referred to as "The Toledo Express." The Glass City was a typical port stop for the ship, which carried taconite iron ore. 

Many of the 29 people who died in the wreck were from the Toledo area, including Captain Ernest McSorley.

The Edmund Fitzgerald sank Nov. 10, 1975, in eastern Lake Superior, about 17 miles from the entrance to Whitefish Bay, Mich. The ship departed from Superior, Wis., and planned to arrive at Detroit's Zug Island.

Extreme weather and sea conditions are part of all published theories into the ship's sinking, but they disagree about other factors. A large storm rolled in Nov. 9 and by 2 a.m. Nov. 10, the National Weather Service upgrades its warnings from gale to storm.

Winds of 58 mph were recorded about 2 p.m. and it also began to snow. McSorley reported via radio that the ship was taking on water.

By evening, McSorley reported he had lost both radars aboard the ship. Other ships reported waves as high as 25 feet.

About 7:10 p.m., he reported, "We are holding our own," but was never heard from again.

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McSorley, 63, was Canadian by birth but lived in Ottawa Hills. He spent over 40 years as a mariner and was in his third year manning the Fitzgerald. 

Other local crew members included Eugene "Great Lakes Gambler" W. O'Brien, 50, of Toledo; Robert C. Rafferty, 62, of Toledo; William J. Spengler, 59, of Toledo; Ralph G. Walton, 58, of Fremont; Russell G. Haskell, 40, of Millbury; Thomas E. Edwards, 50, from Oregon.

No remains of crew members were ever found.

Toledo's Earnest Brew Works introduced the Gales of November blackberry sour ale in 2020 in honor of the 45th anniversary of the ship's sinking. The brewery re-released it last weekend, and the beer can be found in Earnest's taprooms and in retail stores.

Credit: Earnest Brew Works
Earnest Brew Works is canning a beer in memory of the 45th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The beer will be released on Saturday at 2 p.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.