Cross River

Cross River, ca. 1930 (Image: Zenith City Press)

Missionary Frederic R. Baraga, born in Yugoslavia in 1797, came to the United States in 1830 to devote his life to the American Indians of the Upper Great Lakes and was named Bishop of Upper Michigan in 1853 (Baraga, Michigan, is named for him). But before that, he had a little trouble in a canoe.

Crossing thirty miles of open Lake Superior waters from La Pointe on Madeline Island ten years prior to becoming a bishop, he and some Ojibwe guides encountered a storm that almost claimed their lives. They eventually found harbor at the mouth of a gently flowing river, and there Baraga nailed a wooden cross to a stump and wrote upon it, “In commemoration of the goodness of almighty God in granting to the Reverend F. R. Baraga safe passage from La Pointe to this place, August, 1843.” The river became Cross River, and the wooden cross has since been replaced by one made of concrete.

The Ojibwe call the river the Tchibaiatigozibi or “Wood of the Soul River.” It flows through the town of Schroeder, named for a logging company president whose firm harvested white pine along the river’s banks around 1900. Two saloons and a bordello served the lumberjacks, keeping them—and their money—from heading for Duluth on their days off. In the 1880s (long before the logging company came) fisherman Henry Redmyer and his family set up a homestead on the river.

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