Father Baragas Cross
Just outside of the town of Schroeder, Minnesota you may notice a green highway sign that reads “Father Baraga’s Cross”. It’s a sign that leads the way to a place that few people stop to explore, but a place that tells the story of a Catholic priest, the Native Ojibwe people, and one of Lake Superior’s infamous storms that have taken down large ships.
Turn down Baraga Cross Road and you will be greeted with a beautiful slice of shoreline and a lake front park. A short distance from the park you will find a granite cross reading “Father Baraga 1846”.
Father Baraga was a Catholic priest who had come to the region from Europe upon hearing that there was a need for clergy in the Great Lakes Region. He moved to La Pointe, Michigan, where he took up 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 the US government.
In order to reach the many tribes spread throughout the region, Father Baraga would travel by foot, canoe, or, in the winter, snowshoes. Often he would travel 100 miles for a Baptism.
In 1846, Father Baraga got word of a possible epidemic in Grand Portage. He and a Native guide attempted to take a 40-mile shortcut across Lake Superior by boat from the Apostle Islands, in order to reach the area faster. If traveling by foot this journey could have taken up to a month. A violent storm blew in partway through their journey across the lake. Father Baraga prayed for a safe landing, and they miraculously made it to shore, hitting land near the mouth of the Cross River.
As a sign of thanks for what Father Baraga viewed as his prayers received, he erected a wooden cross at the site. Since that time the cross has been replaced by the granite cross found on the site today. The Cross River mouth and ledge rock shoreline create a beautiful backdrop for visitors who wish to visit the historic site. There is also a small, protected cobblestone beach and picnic area located adjacent to the property.
Look for the aforementioned green sign along Highway 61 just east of Schroeder near mile marker 78. Turn toward the lake and drive until you hit the parking area along the shoreline.