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. There he was loved by many Ojibwe, Metis and French Canadians. He stood with many Native groups while they were being perpetrated by the fur trade industry and government. Since he oversaw a large area, much of his time was traveling by foot, canoe, or in the winter, snowshoe to reach and support these groups (he would often travel 100 miles for a baptism).
In 1846, Father Baraga heard of a possible epidemic in Grand Portage. In order to reach Grand Portage as fast as possible, he and a Native guide attempted to paddle across Lake Superior (as it turns out, walking around Lake Superior takes a long time!). During their voyage, they were caught in a violent storm but managed to paddle through the storm 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.
Since 1846 the wooden cross has been replaced with the granite cross that is 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.
The next time you’re driving through 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!