Frankford, in the northeast part of Philadelphia, seems an unlikely place to find passionate boatbuilders. Founded by Quakers in 1682, this gritty former manufacturing area on the outskirts of the city now wears a necklace of used-car dealerships, empty factories and low expectations.
“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” vaulted to No. 2 on the Billboard pop charts in 1976, scoring a blockbuster hit for Canadian songwriter Gordon Lightfoot. He’d written the ballad as a tribute to the 29 merchant mariners who died when the bulk carrier Edmund Fitzgerald sank Nov. 10, 1975, in a fierce gale on Lake Superior.
On Friday, Nov. 7, 1913, a blast of frigid Arctic air, accompanied by low barometric pressure, swept into the Great Lakes from Canada. At the same time a weak low-pressure system was tracking eastward from the southeastern United States, setting the stage for the tragic events to come.
More than a year after three children drowned when Kandi Won, a 34-foot Silverton, capsized in Oyster Bay, L.I., N.Y., the tragedy continues to roil the boating community. The July 4, 2012, accident received national attention, spurring action by legislators and boating safety groups.
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