|The dream of a Museum began over fifty years ago. A group of persons interested in preserving Baraga County's rich heritage met at the L'Anse Township Building to form the Baraga County Historical Society. Those early leaders included Ira Harju, Bernard Lambert, Alf Jentoft, Al Lydman, Lowell Hanshaw, Kenny Leaf, and Bruce Deter. Lambert was named president, Jentoft treasurer, and Harju secretary. The Historical Society began searching for a location for a museum almost immediately. For two decades, the Society shared space with the Baraga County Tourist and Recreation Association, but the Society's collections outgrew the building in L'Anse. In 1992 the Village of Baraga granted a 99-year lease on a site and donated infrastructure services that allowed the Society to build the Museum that exists today. Built with cedar logs from Baraga County, the Museum opened July 5, 1993.
The building is located on the shore of Keweenaw Bay on what was called L'Anse Westside in the 1830s. The entire head of the bay area was known as L'Anse when settlements first began to develop. Over time, other names were given to various locations. The area in which the Museum stands was a mail drop-off location called Bristol. As the village grew, Captain James Bendry proposed naming the town after Bishop Frederic Baraga. A prominent businessman, Bendry's own name had been put forward for the settlement, but he declined the honor.
The Museum's many collections include artifacts from Captain Bendry, who is considered a founder of Baraga Village. At one time Bendry also owned much of the property that is present day L'Anse. The Museum's collections include a letter written to Bendry from Bishop Baraga, Captain Bendry's business ledgers, Mrs. Bendry's wedding shawl, and household items. The logging collection includes the William Rouna logging tools and Albin Jacobson's log marks. Copies of the official indexes to recorded births, deaths and marriages in Baraga County from 1875 through approximately 1970 are available for family research. A ceremonial drum and headdress belonging to Herbert Welsh, a well-known local resident and the grandson of Chief Sitting Bull, are also on display.
Other current exihibits include a display of military artifacts relating to World War I; the exhibit honors Baraga County residents who served in the "Great War." Museum visitors can also enjoy displays of early bottles, cigar boxes, glassware, and farming tools. Maritime artifacts include tools salvaged from the wreck of the steamship Arctic, which sank in the Huron Islands in 1860s, and the compass from the George Hebard, a Great Lakes freighter decommissioned in the 1960s. Young or old, local resident or just a visitor passing through, Whatever your interest, you will find displays to intrigue you.