Shipwreck – A Historical Documentary Including 3D in Google Earth

On November 10, 1975 the SS Edmund Fitzgerald – a lake freighter – sank suddenly in a gale storm while on Lake Superior. According to Wikipedia:

The ship went down without a distress signal in 530 feet (162 m) of water at 46°59.9’N 85°6.6’W, in Canadian waters about 17 miles (15 nm; 27 km) from the entrance to Whitefish Bay. All 29 members of the crew perished. Gordon Lightfoot’s hit song, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, helped make the incident the most famous marine disaster in the history of Great Lakes shipping.”

Back when GE was still called Keyhole, a forum member called ‘Hill’ posted a placemark showing the location of the shipwreck and some background infromation and history. Read the thread for lots of interesting details.
SS Edmund Fitzgerald in Google EarthNow, one of our more prolific GE community 3D modelers, ‘jpwade’, has posted a 3D model of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald restoring her to brand-new glory. He also created a collection of image overlays and a bathymetric vector contour of the area where the wreckage was found . Some of the data came from the US Coast Guard.
And, to add a sense of what it might be like, ‘jpwade’ created an animation of how the conditions might have been before the sinking. This innovative GE 4-only time animation shows the ship plowing through with giant waves. Great work ‘jpwade’!
Related: Visible Shipwrecks Around the Earth.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. The Edmund Fitzgerald as I think about the name and I reflect on a Gordon Lightfoot song, putting the two together I feel the intense beauty of the mother ship and the melody and feel like, Ya,, it was worth getting out of bed this morning…… Thanks. Although tragic, traumatic, and devastating, Isent good thoughts and prayers that way.

  2. Hello Frank,
    Being a sailor, we acknowledge risk with each journey and accept some of our fates come sooner than we expect.
    In honor of the ship and her crew i will say …. even while thinking of their plight,
    I get a yearning for being back on the big blue dot. (at sea standing atop the wheelhouse seeing nothing except blue water in 360 deg.)
    Merci Bookoo (many thanks)for the Blog entry.

  3. I saw some of the drawings of the Edmund Fitzgerald and I noticed it was 729 ft long. In the drawing of its final resting place the feet added up to about 520 ft. Where’s the rest of her??

  4. sonya the edmund fitzgerald sank in 520 feet of water and the fitz was 729 foot long the ship is there when she sank she broke in to 2 sections. if you took the ship when is was whole she would still stick out over 100 feet in the air

  5. I was in Sault Ste. Marie Ont. the night the Fitz went down. I grew up in that city,and that night I had never seen weather like that before.I always believed in the possibility of a freak wave frequency,where the ship was supported by two waves instead of three causing it to break.The fact is it may have been caused by a huge sea or a wave frequency,I have never seen or heard any research on the wave frequency theory.

  6. The tragic story of the Fitzgerald continues to pull me in more deeply as time passes. Perhaps the LIghtfoot’s haunting song was the beginning. My condolences to the families on what will be a sad day this Wednesday.

  7. dave kenniker says:

    my heart goes out to all the lives that was lost on that terrible night, but always wondered why there was never a movie made about her? i think it would do justice for the crew since the owners dont want to take responciblity for what they didnt do before the ship left(like fix the problems that the inspection on oct 31 1975 revealed

  8. Mike Blanchard says:

    I have one of the actual emergency ships ladders from the Ed Fitz… it is rope with weathered wooden rungs and iron hooks on one end to hang over the side of the ship. It also has faded weathered red paint that matched the ships hull paint and lifeboat paint. This ladder was recovered on the beach at Whitefish Point the day after the sinking!! I have had it in my collection for many years but must now sell it… I have contacted the Great Lakes Shipwreck museum at Whitefish Point about this awesome artifact and am hoping they will purchase it from me so it can go in the museum… I also just wanted to put it out there that it is for sale in case anyone on here would know of a possible buyer… it is a very long ladder and would look incredible hanging across a ceiling in a restaurant/bar or wherever as well. My email is

    • John Milanesi says:

      I just read your “add” for selling the ships emergency ladder you found belonging to the wrecked Edmund Fitzgerald and I couldn’t be more disappointed in finding out you would try and profit from such a terrible tragedy. Hang it in a restaurant or bar? really? Why would you not just donate such an artifact to the museum instead? Tell me your price so I can buy it and donate it to the museum myself so thousands can enjoy it. Perhaps then I will be remembered as the man who donated the ladder to the museum and your name will be forgotten as the man who sold it. Do you have any other artifacts from other tragedies you’d like to profit from? Maybe you have some wreckage from the twin towers you’d like to sell?

  9. I look at tracking of the Fitzgerald and I can not find the wreck and ship wont move

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.