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A trip through the Wadena multiverse

Photo by Rachelle Klemme Wadena Mayor Wayne Wolden shows some of the souvenirs he brought back from his visit to Wadena, Saskatchewan. Wolden made the trip because the Canadian town invited mayors from other towns named Wadena to its 100th community anniversary. Wadena, Minn. and Wadena, Saskatchewan are about 650 miles apart.

Wadena is a small community with good hunting land, a golf course and an ice arena home to hockey enthusiasts. Sitting on the intersection of two highways, the railroad town boasts murals as well as an old depot that is also a museum. Tornadoes and storm chasers have made the headlines.

And it is about 650 miles away from Wadena, Minn.

Wadena, Sasketchewan celebrated its 100th anniversary of incorporation Aug. 3-5, and invited the mayors of other North American towns of the same name to the festivities.

Mayor Wayne Wolden and his wife, Lori Wolden, of Minnesota made the trip.

The two towns have a historical connection.

"The families who were up there convinced the people that once they incorporated, they should name the community Wadena, after the same chief in the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota that Wadena was named after," Wolden said.

It was Wolden's first trip to the Saskatchewan town of about 1,400 people, but previous mayors, Jan Tubandt and Jim Lundquist, had visited before.

"I brought up T-shirts for the council and the mayor that showed the sister cities theme," Wolden said. "Doug Curtis, the artist at Greiman's, helped design a T-shirt."

Curtis said Wolden asked him to put the T-shirts together. He incorporated Wadena, Iowa as well as the Wadenas in Minnesota and Saskatchewan.

"I took our logos and the shapes of the province and the states and combined them," Curtis said.

Like parallel universes in science fiction stories, the Minnesota and Sasketchewan towns have similar coincidences.

Both Wadenas feature a series of murals and a relatively new golf club house. They also both have an old depot repurposed and open to the public.

Wadena, Sasketchewan has been working on improvements to recreational facilities. An aquatic center built in 2002 had solar panels installed in 2010.

"It looked really nice. It was an outdoor swimming pool," Wolden said. "They have an old ice arena - every town up there has an ice arena - that they were redoing."

Wadena, Minn. has wrestled with what to do about replacing similar recreational facilities lost or damaged in the June 17, 2010 tornadoes that ripped through the area.

The festivities of the 100th anniversary took place several days after two July 18 tornadoes hit the area. Unlike the Wadena, Minn. tornado, they were some distance outside of town.

Additionally, the Aug. 8 issue of the Wadena News of Wadena, Saskatchewan also took note of the town's similarities, alluding to an Aug. 4 Wadena Pioneer Journal article on sandhill cranes, which are apparently a "headache" for both towns.

Wolden said the trip was mostly a vacation for him and Lori, and they paid for mileage and other expenses.

Lori Wolden said the best part of the trip was the people, and that everybody was very friendly.

The couple also came close to being crime victims while staying at a hotel on the way to their destination.

"I went down to go buy some coffee at the local McDonalds, and I saw a vehicle that was jacked up with the tire off of it, and then another, and then I noticed all of the tires had been slashed behind this hotel, except for my vehicle. Every tire in the parking lot was slashed except for mine with the Minnesota plates," Wayne Wolden said.

A woman had been caught on camera, and was subsequently arrested by Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Wolden said he enjoyed the trip and also plans to visit Wadena, Iowa in the fall.

Wadena is also the name of unincorporated towns in Indiana and Oklahoma.