Monday, June 25, 2012

Baraga County Attractions, Upper Peninsula

We certainly had a full day today, seeing about 6 waterfalls, a shrine, museum and a cemetery. We did not have to drive all that far because the attractions are mostly concentrated around the city of L'Anse.  The shrine honors Bishop Baraga.  He was better known as the "Snowshoe Priest".  In 1843 he founded a mission in L'Anse.  His statue is on 5 arches which represent the 5 missions he served.  It has been said that  over most winters he averaged 700 miles on snowshoes,  serving Native Americans.
 The museum we toured is a lumber mill once used by Henry Ford to make his wooden cars from 1936 until 1951, when the demand for wood in cars ended.  It is located in Alberta, Michigan- a company town once owned by Ford. In the museum I learned that there is a connection between Kingsford Briquettes and Henry Ford.  He made the briquettes for his dealerships, they were given free to customers who bought his cars. He sold the company to E.G. Kingsford in 1924.  In the visitor's center for the museum I also learned about birds eye maple. It is a peculiar phenomena which only occurs in certain sugar maples. The trees have a distinctive swirling eyes pattern in the wood.  Furniture made with this wood is on display at the center.
If you are considering buying one of those rockers, the price tag is $17,000 dollars. I will mention here only two of the six falls which we saw today. Canyon Falls is located in a beautiful box canyon which has several levels of falls.  It is the most popular of all the falls in this area for tourists. It is better known as the "Grand Canyon of Michigan".  In the picture my emphasis is more on the canyon rather than the falls.
The other impressive falls which we hiked into today is Silver Falls. There are two levels of falls here;  from the upper falls we took a foot trail about 100 feet down to the lower falls, pictured below.
The Piney Indian Cemetery was another one of our interesting stops of the day. Graves of the Chippewa Nation here date back to the 1840s.  In this cemetery are many spirit houses.  According to Native American belief, when a person dies he needs supplies as food and other items for his 4 day journey to the spirit world. It is a practice continued today- we found a grave of a man buried in 2010 which had a spirit house. A sign explaining the cemetery makes the comment that "our ancestors rest well in this sacred ground".

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