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This Ship Sank 40 Years Ago, But The Bodies Of Her Crew Have Never Been Recovered

NOVEMBER 13, 2015  —  By Tim Unkenholz  
Tim Unkenholz

Tim Unkenholz

Writer and stand up comedian in NY. Check out my monthly comedy show Roomie Raiders at the Creek and The Cave! @timunken

Almost exactly 40 years ago, in 1975, the largest ship to sail the Great Lakes at the time became the largest ship ever to sink there as well -- a record it still holds today.

The most mysterious thing about the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, however, is the disappearance of its crew. All but one of the 29 men who worked on the ship have vanished without a trace, along with their belongings. It is a mystery that no one has solved, even after finding the ship's wreckage at the bottom of Lake Superior.

In its life, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald completed 39 missions that went off without a hitch. On the 40th mission, however, conditions got too rough on the water. The ship was torn in half.

After being hit by three consecutive waves during a storm, the Fitzgerald sank 17 miles away from Michigan's upper peninsula. The ship was found four days later, but there was no sign of the crew.

In 1994, people found one lone crewman, fully clothed, wearing a life jacket near the bow of the ship, but to this day, the captain and the rest of the crew have never been recovered.

One of the theories behind the Fitzgerald crew's disappearance is that in most bodies of water, bacteria feed on the dead bodies and create gas, which causes the bodies to float to the top of the water. In Lake Superior's case, the water is so cold that the bacteria can't grow, so corpses stay anchored to the bed of the lake.