Towns and Villages of Baraga County
Baraga County is a county in the U.S. state of Michigan, named after Bishop Frederic Baraga. As of the 2000 census, the population was 8,746. The county seat is L'Anse. The L'Anse Indian Reservation of the Ojibwa is located within the county.
- Keweenaw Bay
History of the Village of Baraga
The Village of Baraga is located in the northwestern part of
Michigan's Upper Peninsula on L'Anse Bay, the lower part of
Keweenaw Bay on the Lake Superior shorelines. Baraga was founded
on a site once occupied by an Indian community,
and the Village is today a part of the L'Anse Indian Reservation.
In the Seventeenth century the first white men came to the area, as
French missionaries, voyageurs and traders following the south shore
of Lake Superior westward from Sault Ste. Marie. The early 1800's brought a great deal of fur trade, and in 1843
Father Frederic Baraga established a Roman Catholic Mission at
Assinins where he remained for ten years devoting himself
to the education of the Indians. Both the Village and the County
took Father Baraga's name. The Village was under the Township form of Government until it was incorporated in 1891.
The Baraga area exhibits a rich intermingling of foreign cultures, for
a large number of Irish, Scandinavian, and Yugoslav imigrants joined
the French Canadians who pushed into the County to engage in lumbering
and mining and later in agriculture. The population of the area
reached its highest point to date in the early part of the century
as these industries flourished. In recent years, the economy of the
area has shifted toward manufacturing, tourism and casino gaming.
The 1991 census of the Village of Baraga was 1,231, but with the
opening of the Baraga Maximum Security Correctional Facility in
1993, and the need for 350 Corrections Officers and support staff,
the population has continued to increase.
Combining its strong base of commuity values, its heritage of
hardworking people, and the natural beauty of the surrounding area,
Baraga will continue to provide a bit of paradise for residents and visitors alike.
Shrine of the Snowshoe Priest--L'Anse--The 35' 5 ton hand wrought brass statue holds snowshoes 26'long and a 7 foot cross stands six stories above the Red Rock Bluffs.
Shrine of the Snowshoe Priest-- In 1969, a group of citizens gathered and together with sculptor, Jack E. Anderson, the concept of the Shire was born. the land and some of the materials and services were donated. Voluntary contributions were solicited to proceed with the project.
The statue was transferred to the Red Rock location on May 31, 1972.
FORD HISTORIC SAWMILL
Opened - August 7, 1998- Interpretive displays and photos
document the sawmill's operation in its heyday, when it provided
wood for Ford Motor Company automobiles, and provide insights
into the impact of Henry Ford's vision on community development
and forest management in the Upper Peninsula.
Located south of L'Anse on US 41, Alberta was named for Alberta
Johnson, the daughter of Henry Ford's Upper Peninsula operations
superintendent. The town site, which included twelve homes, two
school houses, accessory buildings, and a steam-powered sawmill,
was built in 1935 to provide lumber for use in the production of
Ford autos. But its real purpose in Henry Ford's eyes was to
serve as a model for self-sufficient village industries.
According to his "one foot in industry, one in the land" vision,
each worker's household could also farm a plot of land.
Unfortunately, poor soils and crop destruction by deer quickly
rendered on-site agriculture non-viable.
The wood provided by the mill was used primarily for the popular
Ford station wagons commonly known as "woodies." As the company's
demand for wood decreased, it began to scale back its U.P.
operations, including the sawmill at Alberta. In 1954 the Ford
Motor Company Fund donated Alberta, its sawmill, and 1,700 acres
to Michigan Tech. The University operated the mill for a time as
part of its Ford Forestry Center, which continues to host a part
of MTU's programs in forestry and applied ecology and
Once steam-powered, the sawmill has been converted to electric
power and features a band saw, modified log carriage, edger,
trimmer, and green chain. Much of the original technology is
still in place. The restoration of the mill was made possible by
a $100,000 grant from the Ford Motor Company Fund.
The sawmill offers an excellent opportunity to examine the
physical processes of timber production as they occurred in the
first half of the twentieth century. Visitors can enjoy a tour
that follows the path of lumber through the mill, from rough logs
to finished boards. Signs explaining how the machinery worked
help the visitor imagine the mill as a busy workplace.
Interpretive panels discuss the history of Alberta and the role
of Henry Ford in the economy of the Upper Peninsula.
- Hanka Homestead
Located in a remote clearing of woods six and one half miles off US 41 in Arnheim, visit a nationally registered historic farm. This homestead was built in 1894 by Finnish immigrant Herman hanks in the 1880 style of architecture.
The homestead is currently being restored to its 1920 condition, and is true to period techniques. The farm, one of the most advanced in the area in 1920, had 11 outbuildings and the only telephone for miles.
the homestead is open for visitors on weekends and daily by appointment. Step into another era and experience life of the 1920 farm.
- Curwood Park-Two miles east of L'Anse on the Skanee Road.
James Oliver Curwood is the namesake of the park. He was a prolific writer of the 1920-30's. He was the first writer to earn 1,000,000 for writing novels. Curwood wrote adventure novels that were inspired while staying in his cabin in the Huron
Click here for interesting information on James Curwood The cabin is now located in the park. Exhibits honoring the lumber trade of the 1900's are also a part of the park. The most remarkable display is that of two 12 foot wheels that had been raised from the Huron River. The wheels were theorized to be "beter than the horse" to transport timber from the woods. The large weighte wheels however, dug deep furrows in the soft woods roads and prved less than ideal.
A drive through Pequaming brings the visitor near the old buildings that housed the sawmill for auto pioneer Henry Ford in 1923 which produced wood siding and floorboards for the "woodie". The watertower bearing the Ford insignia is visible from the shores of L'Anse and Baraga. The Bungalow, the summer home of the Ford's has been refurbished and is now open to house guests. Various buildings also remain, including the individual schoolhouses and some of the businesses along the rough "original"road through Pequaming.
During Henry Ford's ownership of this townsite, a self-contained close knit community existed. The town had it's own water system, electricity, entertainment, schools, and employment in the lumbermill.
In 1940 when lumber was no longer heavily used in the process of manufacturing cars, Ford abandoned Pequaming and the lumbermill, and families were forced to find employment as well as homes elsewhere.
Pequaming is located by following Bay shore Road to the end and turning left at the "T"junction. Much of the property is privately owned, be respectful of the boundaries.
- Indian Cemetary
The Native Americans established this cemetery shortly after the arrival of hunters and fur trappers in the 1840's. It was a change in custom from the platform graves along the shoreline of Lake Superior.
The cemetery is placed on a hill, and in the 1840's, it was nestled between two lakes, one of which is now dry. The pine "spirit houses" were placed over Indian graves to provide the person's spirit a place of preparation before the spirit journeyed to the next level of life.
A part of the Ojibwa Indian community's heritage, it is located at the end of Indian Cemetary Road one and one half miles east of L'Anse.
- Baraga County Courthouse
Placed on the National Historic Register this building has recently been refurbished retaining centruy old grae and style and incorporating the need for modern offices and state of the art record storage and retrieval systems. Photographs of the county's scenic area are displayed in the courthouse. The building dates to 1880. It is located in downtown L'Anse.
- L'Anse Township Hall
Dates to the turn of the centruy and contains a pictorial history of the people, events and places throughout the county. It is open during business hours and is located in downtown L'Anse.
Additional Places to see in Baraga County
- Baraga State Park on Keweenaw Bay
- Bishop Baraga Shrine
The statue is located between L'Anse and Baraga, rising over 6o feet high on the Red Rock Cliffs, overlooking the beautiful Keweenaw Bay.
The statue is over 6 stories high with the Bishop holding a 7 foot high cross and showshoes 26 feet long. It rests on a cloud of pewter, supported by 5 wooden beams, at the base of which are 5 teepees representing the Bishop's five major missions.
- Pelkie School House
Sit in the desks and invision school from an era gone by
- Baraga County Historical Museum--Exhibits on lumbering, fur trading and patriotism. The museum is located in Baraga on the shores of Keweenaw Bay.
- Town Hall dates to 1895, a place for community gathering
- Skanee School dates to 1920. It is recently restored and is currently used for classes, K-6 grades.
- Zion Lutheran Church is the oldest church in the Lutheran Church of America Synod in Michigan. They are know for their pie socials.
- Keweenaw Bay
Baraga County has 22 mile of coastline along this beautiful bay. The bay narrows from a 12-mi width at its mouth, and it is the eastern outlet for the Keweenaw Waterway, which cuts northward via Portage Lake through the Keweenaw Peninsula. The villages of Keweenaw Bay, Baraga, and L'Anse lie along the bay, which is popular as a summer resort area and is noted for its fishing. Early explorers, trappers, and missionaries used the site as a campground.
- Lower Silver Falls
Six miles northeast of L'Anse of the Skanee Road, turn right at Falls Road, travel to the end of the road. View the first falls, then walk 100 feet down the foot trail to a second more beautiful falls.
- Canyon Falls
A beautiful box canyon and waterfall on the Sturgeon River, it is considered the grand canyon of Michigan. Found eight miles south of L'Anse.. The walk in to the fall is aprox 1 mile.
- Lower Falls, Falls River
A nice cascading falls, follow the path upstream from the Celotex plant which is located in downtown L'Anse.
- Upper Falls, Falls River
Located 1/4 mile upstream from the lower falls.
- Sturgeon Falls and Gorge
Beautiful falls, 17 miles southeast of Baraga. From US 41 take the Baraga Plains cutoff road, turn left at the four corners, then turn right on the next road, then follow the signs. 1.3 mile walk from parking area.
- Silver Mountain
Climb up the stairs to enjoy the panoramic view of the Sturgeon River Valley. Found near the Sturgeon gorge area.
- Little Mountain
A hike up little mountain offers a panoramic view of Keweenaw Bay and the Huron Mountains. the trailhead is found at the end of the golf course road, five miles south of L'Anse.
- Alberta Pond Nature Trail
Follow the self guided tour of the Ford Forest. 1 1/2 mile long trail on the west side of the Alberta Pond.
- Point Abbaye
View of the Huron Islands and the Huron Mountains along. Follow Skanee Road, turn left onto Townline Road, then right onto the Point Abbaye Road. Total trip 23 miles from L'Anse.
- Mount Curwood
Drive or hike up the second highest point in Michigan at 1977.64 feet. The road is a rough longing road, caution should be noted.
- Mount Arvon
Hike the trail on the north sid of the mountain that is the highest point in Michigan, 1987.82 feet which is about 12 inches higher than Mount Curwood. It is foresed mountains, no panoramic view is seen. The trail is marked.
- Slate Quarry
Walk through the remains of the quarry area that dates to the 1800's. Found at the end of Arvon Road, Skanee.
Ojibwa Lanes and Lounge, M-38 in Baraga
- Huron Island Lighthouse
The Huron Island Lighthouse was constructed in 1868 on Huron Island, the second largest island in the Huron Islands chain in southern Lake Superior. The lighthouse is located in a wilderness area, about three miles north of Huron Point and the Huron Mountains, and approximately 20 miles east of Keweenaw and Huron Bay beyond Point Abbaye. In the mid 1970's the Coast Guard installed a new system on the island, about a half mile from the original light, that is operated automatically by radar. The automatic lighthouse elimated the need for housing a light keeper on the island, so the historic lighthouse was closed up. In 1999, the non-profit organization, Huron Island Lighthouse Preservation Association, was formed to save the local landmark.
- The Sand Point LighthouseBaraga, on L'Anse Bay.
- Cross Country Skiing
- Pinery Lake Ski Trail
- Indian Cemetery Road
- Ponnistus Ski Trail, Covington
Baraga County Links by Clyde Elmblad
Baraga Maximum Security Correctional Facility
THE L'ANSE SENTINEL -The local weekly paper!
Visit St. Ann's Catholic Church, Baraga
Baraga County Wild side
UP County Index
Land for Sale!