DETROIT (WWJ) – On Thursday, the Detroit Historical Society’’s Dossin Maritime Group will host its annual remembrance of the loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank during a massive storm on Lake Superior 36 years ago.

The Fitzgerald battled the giant waves for hours, before it suddenly sank without sending any distress signals. The ship went down with all 29 members of its crew, ironically, just 17 miles from the safety of Whitefish Bay in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Elmer Dunn, a crew member of the freighter William Clay Ford, which left safe harbor that fateful night to search for any survivors of the Fitzgerald, is scheduled to be on hand for the event.

WWJ’s Roberta Jasina spoke with Dunn, a Dearborn Heights resident, who said he remembers that night as if it were yesterday.

“The wind was northwest, and this was midnight when we left our anchorage at White Fish Point. The waves, they were 20-25 feet, some would say 30. The first one that hit went right over the pilothouse and stopped us momentarily. We cut our speed way back and then just took it easy and rode with the waves to the location,” said Dunn.

“It took us approximately over an hour and 45 minutes or so to get to the location. We didn’t expect to find any survivors,” he continued.

The evening’’s activities will begin with a lantern vigil at the Edmund Fitzgerald anchor, followed by a performance by Great Lakes balladeer Lee Murdock, a color guard escort of a memorial wreath to the Detroit River for receipt by an honor flotilla of Great Lakes vessels, and McGreevy’s program on the Key Stone State.

The program begins at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10 at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, located at 100 Strand on Detroit’s Belle Isle. Admission is $5 for DHS members, $10 for guests and $25 for a family of up to six people.

If you can’t make the event, you can still catch all the action via webcast. Click here to watch, beginning at 6 p.m.

For more information, call 313-833-1801 or visit


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