Crossed Canoes & Oars
13491 Old Wadena Circle Staples MN 56479
Old Wadena Park and Campground is on the National Register of Historic Places. The little round hill where the Battle of Partridge River was fought is memorialized as is the Ox Cart trail which forded the Crow Wing River. It is not only a campground but now also boasts a pavilion for larger gatherings and festivals. The barn quilt, Crossed Canoes & Oars, which is displayed on the new pavilion, was donated to the Park by Barn Quilts of Central Minnesota and painted by students at the Staples-Motley High School. Besides hosting numerous campers and canoers throughout the season, the park is also the location for the Old Wadena Rendezvous, which is held annually in August, Conservation Days, which is put on by the County Soil and Water Conservation District for elementary age students, many weddings and family reunions, and other events held throughout the year. There are walking trails, including a footbridge across the Partridge River to the battle site, and informational signs along the way. The Park also includes an educational Bog Walk, which was constructed by the Old Wadena Society through donations of time, money, and lots and lots of donated sections of dock frames!
Old Wadena, like all other County campgrounds has a hand pump for potable water, wood for campfires, and a handicap accessible outhouse. Old Wadena is the only park in the County’s 10 Park system which can be reserved for events.
Reservations can be made by contacting the Wadena County Parks Department at 218-631-7604 (certain fees apply). A reservation form is also on the Parks main webpage.
When you come to visit Old Wadena, expect to be amazed by the peace that inhabits this park, expect to learn its rich history, and expect to relax in the subtle beauty of this natural environment, a treasure on the “little round hill”.
OLD WADENA PARK AND CAMPGROUND – A BRIEF HISTORY
In 1783 the fur traders built the Crow Wing River’s first trading post on “the little round hill” at the mouth of the Partridge River. The Chippewa word “Wadena” means “little round hill”. Venturing deep into the prized hunting ground of the Sioux, the voyageurs of the famed Northwest Company, found themselves challenged by the proud and gallant Sioux nation in the battle which was part of nearly a century of warfare that was waged between the white man and the Sioux. While the history books say that the voyageurs won the Battle of Partridge River, it is also noted that nine years passed before the traders returned to the Crow Wing River country.
Then in the mid 19thcentury the Red River Trails were forged between Minneapolis – St. Paul and the Red River Colony in present day Manitoba. A route blazed in 1844, known as the Woods Trail, forded the Crow Wing River between the mouths of the Partridge and Leaf Rivers. In the 1850’s the US government began improving the Woods Trail but ultimately only progressed as far as the Crow Wing Crossing. Augustus Aspinwall platted a townsite there which he named “Wadena”. He established a trading post, a post office, and a ferry, and it became a regular stop for travelers on the Woods Trail. Wadena was named as county seat and Aspinwall anticipated a flood of settlers as soon as the railroad track could be built through the area. However the Panic of 1857 suppressed railroad construction for years, and when the Northern Pacific Railway finally laid track through the area in 1871, they chose a route that was 3 and ½ miles to the south. What little population had collected in Aspinwall’s town abandoned the site and established a new town of Wadena along the railway. Later Peter and Angeline Roy established the first farm in the county at the old Wadena townsite where they raised crops and dairy cattle.
The barn quilt was a gift from Barn Quilts of Central Minnesota and was painted by art students at Staples Motley High School.