Local museum uses freighter to help tell the story of the Edmund Fitzgerald

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TOLEDO (WTVG) - The National Museum of the Great Lakes is offering a hands-on program to help people learn about the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Toledo was a frequent port of call for the ill-fated freighter. The captain and six crew members were from the Toledo area.

When the freighter was christened in 1958, she became the biggest freighter ever to sail the Great Lakes. In 1975, she became the largest ship to sink in the Great Lakes.

The giant ore carrier set record after record during her 17 years sailing the Great Lakes. That includes the most iron ore carried in a single trip and most carried in a single season. However, on November 10, 1975, the Big Fitz carried her crew into the history books. All 29 men on board were killed. The ship went down without a call for help.

All these years later, the shipwreck remains one of the greatest mysteries on the Great Lakes. The investigation into the tragedy remains the largest maritime investigation in Great Lakes history. There were a number of theories about what happened, but there has never been a definitive ruling on the cause. Many say they think that will never change.

The Col. James M. Schoonmaker is part of the National Museum of the Great Lakes. The freighter was built decades before the Fitzgerald but was retrofitted in the 1950s, and that made her engine room and deck configuration very similar to the Fitzgerald's.

There is a special program being offered at the museum called "The Fitzgerald Experience." You will start the day with a private group tour of the Schoonmaker. You will then watch an hour-long documentary produced by the museum about the tragedy. The programs will be offered on November 9th and 10th. Tickets are $20 for museum members and $25 for non-members.

We've posted links with all the information about the special program.