As they slowly came around the bend in the Mississippi River, they caught their first glimpse of the rock where an evil-spirit the native people called a Manitou supposedly resided.
They squinted their eyes. It was hard to tell if this was the place. Everything seemed to blend together at their present angle. The map that one of the crew held indicated that this was the place.
Father St. Cosme stood up, putting his hand above his brow. The written words of Father Marquette over 25 years ago replayed in his mind:
(They) wished to divert us from our undertaking, warned us against it.
The waters begun to run faster. A large rock on the left bank (present-day Devil’s Back Oven) jutted into the river, which forced water off to the right. Their canoe followed suite.
The tower of a rock could be clearly seen now. Thrusting over 80 foot into the air, this sculpted limestone behemoth, was capped with trees and shrubs giving the rock an ominous feel.
All the talk and fear of the rock from previous days now would become their present reality.
They were now in clear view of it, but they noticed that the waters were not raging as much as they were warned. In fact, one of the more experienced navigators on the crew stated that they should be able to land on the edge of the rock if they so desired.
They turned to Father St. Cosme and a plan soon developed. If they could land without harming the vessel and then afterwords be able to re-enter the main channel without incident, then they agreed that they should land on the rock.
The men dug deep with their paddles, which maneuvered the agile canoe into an eddy near the waters which split going on each side of the rock.
The sound of wood scraped the edges of rock and was the audible signal that they had landed.
Father St. Cosme stepped foot on the slanted limestone. For most of his life he had read the gospel stories of the Messiah casting out demons and having command over them. As a man of faith, who had dedicated his life to the proclamation of “The Word”, he would stand up against the demons or give his life up trying, even though fear seemed to be always around the next bend.
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