Whitefish Point Cemetery

This is the Whitefish Point Cemetery. To find it, take M-123 north through Paradise for about 10 miles to W. Wildcat Road, a  gravel road marked by a sign to the Centennial Cranberry Farm. Turn left. The cemetery is about 1.5 miles down the road, on the right, with its entrance marked by this sign.

It is a peaceful place in the woods, with family burial plots, some old but some new. There are graves marked “unknown. There are graves of many, many small children. There are finely carved modern headstones and a few finely carved old ones. But mostly this is a place of simple grave markers that leave you with a strong sense of just what a hard-scrabble place the Eastern U.P. has been and still is for many.

I’ll mostly just let Steve’s photos tell the story. First, meet Jennie House, an early postmaster, seen here hanging on the wall at her grandson’s nearby cranberry farm.

This is Jennie House’s grave.

Mark and Arlene House are buried here.

Sunlight filters through the tall pine trees. Moss covers the ground in many places. The forest floor swells with small hills and sinks with small valleys. This cemetery is a compelling, sobering place. It feels very peaceful and not too sad.

Some of the names of the dead are lost and have been marked “unknown.” But this grave still has the smooth Lake Superior stones in place, arranged as a cross. That was how someone chose to mark the place where their loved one was buried.

The names of the now-unknown dead are gone. But pieces of their original grave markers remain.

Even some of the recently dead are buried with very simple memorial stones

and very simple hand-made markers.

The cemetery has sections divided into small family plots. Some people can even visit their own burial site, reserved just like a table at some fancy restaurant.

Here’s a link to who’s buried here and photos of their headstones.

9 thoughts on “Whitefish Point Cemetery

  1. Your photographs of Whispering Pines Cemetery on Whitefish Point are compelling.

    I grew up in Newberry. In the late 1990’s my mother and I spent a Sunday visiting our favorite Lake Superior places. I had happened upon Whispering Pines two years before. There had been no time to explore this special, if not sacred, spot, and I had vowed to return. I suggested Mom and I try to find it on our outing. It was the end of October and late in the afternoon when we left Paradise. We found the cemetery but took a wrong turn driving out. We slammed into a sand pit in the middle of the road.

  2. @Thea…thanks much for your comment and for your visit to my blog. Steve and I look forward to reading your magazine piece on this soberingly beautiful place.

  3. I am so happy I found this site. My grandparents are at their final resting place here, Charles and Mary Rajala. Now thanks to your post I’ll be able to visit them this summer. Thank you so very much

  4. @Noreen, question is there anyway for me to find out a rough estimate of where in the cemetery they are laid to rest at? Charles and Mary Rajala

  5. @Rebecca…I don’t recall any map being available of who rests where. But it is a small place. I don’t think you will have difficulty finding your grandparents. Since you first visited my blog, I added a link at the end of the post to a site that has photographs of headstones in the cemetary. Your grandparents’ names are listed and you can click on the link and see their headstones.

  6. Years ago we visited the cemetery and again today. We were told years ago that some of the graves have Unknown on them because a fire went thru a logging camp and people were killed. This was told to us by someone in Paradise who was raised in the area. Now I’m curious to know what really happened.

  7. @Sharon…Interesting. That would make a lot of sense–that no one knew the victims or that their bodies couldn’t be identified. Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I will do some internet research to see if there are any recountings of a logging camp fire.

  8. At one time I talked to Jenny’s grandson. He said Jenny had found washed up bodies on the Lake Superior shore had gone to the township because she wanted to give the unknown a Christian burial, Also during huckleberry season they are in abundance in the area. So very peaceful place.

  9. @Terri…Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving this comment. It helps to understand the place a bit better. And, even to an outsider (me) it seemed a very peaceful place.

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