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Wadena County originally covered with pine trees

Lina Belar, Interim Executive Director, Wadena County Historical Society

Wadena County north of the Leaf River was originally covered with a wonderful stand of pine. Norway pine predominated but there were small sections on which white pine grew. On the heavier soils north of Wadena village there was an abundance of oak and other hardwoods.

Lumbering in the county started at an early date. The first pine cut was a stand of beautiful white pine in Wing River, just north of where the Wing River town hall located. This pine was cut around 1870 or 1871 by the Clark and McClure Lumber Company. It was already gone by the time the first European settlers arrived, but the stumps showed that the timber had been cut two or three years previously.

For many years, the woods of the county resounded with the sound of the woodman's ax and in the spring of the year the rivermen brought the drives down the Crow Wing, Red Eye, Shell and the Blueberry Rivers. In 1881, even the Leaf River had a log drive.

At all stations on the railroad an immense business was done in wood, ties and piling. In Wadena, the ties along the right of way of the Northern Pacific walled in the track for a half mile on either side. The railroad engines were wood burners in those days and consumed much cordwood. The era of railroad building made an unlimited market for piling.

Lumbering operations continued and by 1895 it was noted that McGee Bros. had 15,000,000 of pine in the Crow Wing at Nimrod. In 1902, the railroad was still hauling logs from the north through Wadena but most of the original stand of virgin timber in Wadena county had been cut and removed and lumbering operations on grand scale had ended.

Pine Descriptions

Norway Pine - The Norway pine is the state tree of Minnesota. It's needles are 3-5 inches long and are dark green. Norway pines are very full trees that have great needle retention.

White Pine - This is a slightly more delicate, but beautiful pine. The needles are very soft and about 2-4 inches in length. White pines have a great scent and excellent needle retention. The branches and needles are not as strong, so this tree should be decorated with length ornaments.

From the Wadena Pioneer Journal December 15, 1927 compiled by Robert C. Zosel. Lina Belar is the interim executive director of the Wadena County Historical Society.