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Michigan: Cross Village

One of the Wanderer's favorite rides in Michigan heads north, more or less, on M-119, otherwise known as the Tunnel of Trees. This route hugs the Lake Michigan shoreline from Harbor Springs through heavily wooded forest and ends at Cross Village, a charming little town with fewer than 100 residents. The original settlers of the village were members of the Odawa Native American tribe, who established the settlement along the shoreline and then moved it to the bluff overlooking the lake, where it stands today. Among the Jesuit missionaries who arrived at the village in the late seventeenth century was Father Jacques Marquette, who is credited with erecting the original 100-foot cross on the bluff to mark the location for travelers by land and water. The community has replaced the cross as it weathered over the centuries.

Cyclists relax on a bench overlooking the bluff at Cross Village, Michigan
Cross Village, Michigan

The Redpath Memorial Presbyterian Church stands across the street from the bluff. The original church was built in 1888 and destroyed in a fire that swept through the village in 1918. It was re-built in 1921 through the tireless efforts of Reverend John Redpath, for whom it is named. The lumber industry, which had grown extensively in this area in the late 1800s, began to disappear in the early 1900s, and the church closed. Two local families promoted the re-opening of the church in 1965 and it continues to offer services from Memorial Day to Labor Day each year.

Redpath Memorial Church; Cross Village, Michigan
Redpath Memorial Church; Cross Village, Michigan

Just down the road, you'll find Legs Inn, a landmark restaurant designated as a Registered Michigan Historic Site. The building was constructed in the 1930s by Stanley Smolak, a Polish immigrant who worked alongside native Odawa craftsmen. It is constructed of locally gathered logs, with roots, limbs, and driftwood incorporated into unusual design features such as the burled wood and tree branch handle that greet you at the front door. The restaurant continues to be operated by the Smolak family, serving Polish-American food in the dining room, on the porch, and overlooking Lake Michigan from the outdoor patio when weather permits.

If you go:

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