A Personal Note From Kathy Covert Warnes

As the author of this blog and a university trained historian, I put a great deal of faith, time, and resources in getting my facts correct. For the most part, they are correct. I can’t claim to be perfect, because I am human, but I thoroughly research my material.
Putting many disparate and conflicting sources together is a time consuming and often teeth clenching job. Wading through and analyzing human perspectives, agendas and versions of a story and presenting an at least balanced view of the entire picture is also time consuming and sometimes mind boggling.

I write this blog because I was born and raised in Ecorse and I love my hometown. It makes me very sad to see it look so bedraggled and I believe it has a fascinating history that should be told. I spend a great deal of time and checking scattered and almost non-existent sources trying to preserve Ecorse history.

Again, as a professional historian I was trained to look at all viewpoints and at least try to be objective.
I cannot be objective about a comment that I received today. In fact, I erased it. The comment was about the Edmund Fitzgerald. In the form of an invitation, a gentleman stated that the Fitzgerald was built in the River Rouge yard of Great Lakes Engineering and he invited everyone to attend a ceremony celebrating it there in November.

According to the records at the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes in Bowling Green, Ohio, part of the Edmund Fitzgerald was built in Ecorse. In fact, one person involved told me that some of the sections were assembled in Ecorse and some assembled in the River Rouge Yard of Great Lakes Engineering.

I haven’t seen any factual basis to back up the claim that the Fitzgerald was entirely built in River Rouge.

I ran into this issue once before when I wrote a column for the Herald newspapers. In that case, I had written a column and featured some pictures of the Fitzgerald that John Duguay had taken. In that column, I stated that the Fitzgerald was built and launched in Ecorse. I didn’t just pull this statement out of thin air. I checked with some sources and that’s what they said.

Instead of writing me a polite note and questioning my sources, a gentleman was “kind”- and I use that word sarcastically – enough to go behind my back and take the plans for the Fitz to my editor. According to the gentleman from River Rouge, the Fitzgerald was launched in River Rouge, although that is not what I heard from the archivist at the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes. I apologized and told the editor that’s what my oral sources had said.

This time I’m not apologizing. Until the commenter can prove that the Edmund Fitzgerald was entirely built in River Rouge, my article about Great Lakes Engineering in Ecorse stands as I wrote it and I won’t publish any comments on my blog that I consider to be at least partially incorrect and self serving.

Kathy Covert Warnes

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About Kathy Warnes

I am a writer/historian with two history websites that I hope you will check out. One of them is: discoverfunhistory.webs.com My other history website is: historybecauseitshere.webbly.com My writers website is: Kathy Warnes Writer http://kathywarneswriter.weebly.com/ History My blogs are: http://womanwarriors.wordpress.com/ http://wanderworldhistory.blogspot.com/ http://searchinghistoricalhorizons.wordpress.com/ http://maritimemoments.wordpress.com/ http://definitelydownriver.blogspot.com/
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3 Responses to A Personal Note From Kathy Covert Warnes

  1. Mr. Hoffman says:

    Some of us know that the Geographical location in question all began with an area known as “Grandport” then came Ecorse Township which included most of what is now known as “Downriver”..I heard reports that Great Lakes Engineering Works played politics in regards to the wanting of River Rouge Mi. to become a city proper for tax reasons, as to this report being factual is unsubstantiated..It is a fact that after River Rouge became it’s own city there were elements of Great Lakes Engineering Works in both Ecorse & Rive Rouge, as far as the building & launching of the “Mighty Fritz” is concerned I do believe the debate can summed up when the overall sources are considered… January 8, 1903 Great Lakes Engineering Works acquired an 85 acre parcel of land with 1400 feet of Detroit River frontage in the downriver community of Ecorse, MI. It was located just downriver from the mouth of the Rouge River and the then well known Smith Coal Dock…Great Lakes Engineering created 4 Slips/Berths which still exist, two of which are north of Great lakes Ave. within the city of River Rouge & two which are south of Great lakes Ave In Ecorse..One of the two Slips south of Great lakes Ave. was enlarged in the 1940′s to accommodate the large Navy ships that were constructed during WWII, This large Slip would in fact have been the Slip the Mighty Fritz would have been Launched from…I believe the confusion about all of the Slips/Berths being located in River Rouge has to do more with a false sense of Geography due to the Lay misunderstanding of the Street grid of the roads on the East side of W. Jefferson to the waters edge as a reference point as opposed to any City pride or rivalry…A ship built back in the 1950′s was built from the Keel up, where the Keel was laid (In the cradle) is at the waters edge, and the waters edge in the Fritz’s case is that large Slip in Ecorse Mi….

  2. Mr. Hoffman says:

    Addendum to previous comment: Regrading any confusion as to what city the Edmund Fitzgerald was Built/Launched within, one must consider that even though the lions share of the Great Lakes Engineering Works was located within the City of Ecorse at the time of the launching of the Fritz the name of the Yard in which it was launched was called the “River Rouge yard”..As to why it was called the River Rouge yard is unknown to this commenter(Perhaps tax purposes), however I do know that the yard name was adopted once River Rouge became a city..The Keel of Hull # 301 (Edmund Fitzgerald) was laid August 8, 1957 in Launching Slip # 3 South side, at the Great Lakes Engineering Works A.K.A. River Rouge Ship yard..Launching Slip # 3 of the Great Lakes Engineering Works River Rouge yard was located within the city of Ecorse Mi….The name River Rouge yard at first thought could perhaps make one conclude that the Fritz was built & launched within the city of River Rouge..

  3. Dan LeBlanc says:

    I have read a number of Kathy Warnes’ articles and books and would like to discuss with her my family history and the old Ecorse Boat Club. Thanks

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