Along Highway 61 in Schroeder is a green highway sign reading “Father Baraga’s Cross”. It’s a sign that points to a place few people stop to explore.
Down Baraga Cross Road, visitors will find a beautiful slice of shoreline marked with a granite cross reading “Father Baraga 1846”. Father Baraga was a Catholic priest originally from Europe. After hearing there was a need for clergy in the Great Lakes Region, he moved to La Pointe, Michigan with an interest in Ojibwe culture. He was loved by many Ojibwe, Metis and French Canadians there. He stood with many Native groups while they were being perpetrated by the fur trade industry and government. Being responsible for such a large area, he spent much of his time walking, canoeing, and snowshoeing in the winter to reach and support these groups (he traveled 100 miles for a baptism).
In 1846, Father Baraga heard of a possible epidemic in Grand Portage. To reach Grand Portage as quickly as possible, he and a Native guide paddled across Lake Superior. As it turned out, walking around Lake Superior takes a lot of time! They were caught in a violent storm during their voyage but managed to paddle through it to land When they reached shore they found themselves at the mouth of the Cross River in present-day Schroeder. Upon their landing, they erected a small wooden cross in thanksgiving.
Father Baraga’s Cross Today
The wooden cross was replaced in 1846 by the granite cross that stands at the site today. The Cross River mouth and ledge rock shoreline create a beautiful backdrop for visitors who wish to visit the historic site. A small, protected cobblestone beach is located adjacent to the property for rock-skippers and picnickers alike.
Take Highway 61 North of Schroeder (near mile marker 78 on Highway 61). Be sure to turn toward Lake Superior on Father Baraga’s Road and check out Father Baraga’s Cross. You’ll be glad you did!
Listen to Jaye talk about the history of Father Baraga’s Cross on the Exploring the North Shore Podcast: