The bell of the Edmund Fitzgerald was raised Tuesday from the bottom of Lake Superior, 20 years after the ship sank in a gale and carried 29 crewmen to their deaths.
A diver brought the bell to the surface after a three-hour dive to the most famous shipwreck on the Great Lakes.
About a dozen relatives of the victims looked on as the bell was brought aboard the Canadian Navy’s HMCS Cormorant.
“It was quite a cheerful moment,” said Larry Elliott, a spokesman for the mission.
The ship, immortalized in Gordon Lightfoot’s ballad “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” lies 538 feet deep in Whitefish Bay.
It was on its way to Detroit from Superior, Wis., with a cargo of 26,000 tons of iron ore pellets when it sank Nov. 10, 1975. None of the 29 bodies was recovered.
The bell was raised by a diver in a pressurized suit with the help of two Canadian Navy minisubmarines.
It is to be presented to the sailors’ families at a ceremony Friday in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
It then will become the centerpiece of a memorial at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society Museum at Whitefish Point, Mich.
The memorial is to be dedicated in the fall with family members and Lightfoot as guests.
A final dive will replace the bell with a replica engraved with the names of the Fitzgerald’s crewmen.
The project, sponsored by the shipwreck society, is a partnership among underwater photographer Emory Kristof of the National Geographic Society, scientist Joe MacInnis of Toronto and the Cormorant.
Two diving expeditions last summer located the wreck in two pieces.
Photos showed the hull had buckled and exploded by the force of hitting the bottom. The nose of the ship was driven almost 25 feet into the sediment on the lake’s floor.
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