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Archaeologist visits Old Wadena

A group of enthusiastic history seekers braved the cold and rain Saturday afternoon at Old Wadena Park.

Guy Gibbon, professor of anthropology at the University of Minnesota, joined local historian John Crandall and Mary Harrison in leading a tour at the park.

Old Wadena Park is about 15 miles east of Wadena on the Crow Wing River and Partridge River. The area used to be popular with trappers and fur traders, Crandall said.

"There is evidence that American Indians had been here as long as 3,000 years ago," he added.

Augustus Aspinwall claimed the town site in 1856 and the population was close to 100 people between 1856 and 1860, he said.

Mary Harrison led the group to a section in the park called "Little Round Hill." There are a number of large holes in the ground that could have been from the original trading post, for burying hides or even fire pits, she said. No one knows for sure, she said.

Gibbon said the only way to really figure out what the holes are is to do some extensive surveying. The holes would not be from typical northwest fur trading posts, though, because they were laid on the ground and didn't have cellars, he said.

The tour continued to the Aspinwall rope ferry crossing that was operated between 1859 and 1868. The park has signs outlining some of the history throughout the area.

The event was sponsored by the Old Wadena Society and the Wadena County Historical Society.