Tuesday, July 07, 2009

2009 Rendezvous is August 8 and 9

We have a new-slightly changed web address. You can get to our website at the following URL: www.oldwadenarendezvous.org

Thanks, and we hope to see you at this year's Rendezvous August 8 & 9, 2009.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Old Wadena Rendezvous 2007

We had another successful Rendezvous at the Old Wadena Park this past weekend. One of the highlights for kids of all ages was the fireating act of Kenneth Taylor and Emerald Kelly, the clockwork clown. More pictures of this year's Rendezvous will follow.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

summer solstice pageant at Grand Marais

The introduction of the main characters atop a rolling scaffold.

Going to the cabin with the dog. The dog was a big hit.

The dance of the fire and the wind.

After the rain, the sun helps get new growth started.

The little sprouts among the dead trees.

Most of the Old Wadena folks will remember that three years ago the Old Wadena Society produced a summer solstice pageant modeled on the one in Grand Marais. This year Sally and I went to Grand Marais again to see the 2007 version of the solstice pageant. It was wonderful.

The story was based on the Ham Lake fire in the BWCA. It was a very fun production, with many of the main characters introduced at the top of a rolling scaffolding and introduced by a narrator who gave the basics of the story to come. Then came a fellow driving with his dog to his northwoods cabin, news over the radio of the fire, the evacuation and comfort provided by the comfort goddess, a dance between the fire god and the wind god, then the flames grow with the arrival of the fire dragon, next the rain goddess and the local firefighters heroically end the fire danger, and finally the sun god appears, all leading to a parade of little green sprouts played by small children among bigger kids on stilts looking like burnt trees. There was almost no dialogue; the puppets, mostly a creation directed by the artist Betsy Bowen, and their dancing, told the story. The music, both instrumental and vocal, helped in that way too. Very cool, and conveying an important lesson about the regeneration of life in an effective way.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Wahoo tree planted

Board members Dave Mattila of Sebeka and Greg Leifermann of Motley planted a Wahoo tree at the Old Wadena Park site on Thursday, May 10. If you are wondering what a Wahoo tree is (I sure was), you can find information here and here. The tree was a gift to the Society from the Todd County Historical Society at the April annual meeting of the Society held at Wahoo Valley. Tom Kajer provided tools and black dirt, and the rest of us looked on approvingly.

There was also time for a little picnic-monthly meeting under the canopy of burr oak trees just beginning to leaf out.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Walker Hill Site

Scott Anfinson, Minnesota State Archaeologist, posted this report (pdf file) on the controversy surrounding the Walker Hill Site near Walker, Minnesota where tools dating back to the end of the last glacial period (about 14,000 years ago) were found. Anfinson's report is from February 20, 2007. The Walker Hill Site was a topic of great interest at the annual meeting in April.

How the carp came to the Crow Wing

Photograph "Men displaying their catch" from the collection of Minnesota Historical Society (negative #64846)

The following exerpt is from an article titled "Without Careful Consideration: Why Carp Swim in Minnesota Waters" by Stephen R. Hoffbeck in the Summer 2001 (Volume 57, number 6, pages 305-320) issue of the Minnesota History Quarterly about the man who introduced the carp to the Crow Wing River. It is certainly a cautionary tale about this dubious practice.

A typical Minnesota carp enthusiast was Wadena County's John Wesley Speelman. In the railroad town of Verndale, Speelman had a tree nursery that he had started upon his arrival from Nebraska in 1882. In that state he had sold trees to farmers who needed to plant them on their "tree claims." (Under provisions of the Homestead Act, claimants who planted 10 acres in trees could get a second 160 acre homestead.) In Minnesota, Speelman sold fruit trees-apple, crab apple, plum, and cherry—to help farmers diversify their farms. One variety he favored was the Russian mulberry tree, a foreign import that he thought could improve the fruit-growing prospects of Wadena County. If a Russian tree could grow in Minnesota, he reasoned, surely the German carp could also flourish in the waters near Verndale. This would diversify the fish populations of local rivers and lakes and help settlers reap a bounty of fish. A tinkerer by nature, Speelman also raised different breeds of chickens in order to find the fowl that could best adapt to local conditions. The logic of discovering the best fruit trees, chicken breeds, and fish stocks for Verndale was elementary to a man who worked closely with nature.

In the spring of 1884, Speelman explored local rivers, including the Shell and Crow Wing, to determine the feasibility of launching a steamboat enterprise. At the same time, he discovered places that seemed suitable for stocking German carp into the watershed, and he ordered his first shipment of twenty from the state.

In 1885 Speelman, described in the local newspaper as a "good and reliable" man, secured 40 more carp from the fisheries commission for further distribution around Verndale. His carp were a small part of a total of 3,105 stocked in the state that year. Two other varieties—mirror and leather—carp, also appeared in the commission's annual report of stocking activities.

Butterflies of Wadena County

Dick Oehlenschlager has published The Flora and Fauna of Wadena County, Minnesota Part I: The Butterflies (Lepidopterae: Hesperoidae and Papilionoidea) of Wadena County, Minnesota.

Dick regularly leads flora and fauna identification tours for the Society in Old Wadena Park. This photograph is from the 2005 Rendezvous and Folklife Festival.

Newspaper accounts of the Society's annual meeting

Tom Crawford, Old Wadena Society board member and News Editor of the Staples World, posted his story, also published in the World, about the annual meeting of the Society in this blog. Rin Porter of the Todd County Country Courier wrote another story about the Society's annual meeting.

Renewed Old Wadena Society Web Pages

Take a look at the newly redesigned web pages at www.wadenarendezvous.org. The website is more a place for formal information to be displayed. The blog can be used for current conversation about the work of the Society.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Crow Wing River at Wahoo Valley

The river was beautiful the day of the annual meeting. Here you can see the reflections of popple trees and red ossier dogwood. The first faint tinges of green are here too after a long winter.

Dr. Lund receives "Keep My Fires Burning" blanket from Society members

Here is one more photograph of Dr. Lund receiving the Founders Award for his contributions to the history and environment of the Old Wadena area. The "Keep My Fires Burning" blanket depicts a storyteller conveying the beauty of the world to his listeners. What an appropriate reminder to all of us about Duane Lund's lifetime work in writing and publishing his books of regional history and culture--including cookbooks as well as histories of the region. Pictured with Dr. Lund are Old Wadena Society board members Tom Kajer and Don Droubie

Old Wadena Society Annual Meeting

Walker researcher terms finds there as interesting
Staples World, April 19, 2007
By Tom Crawford
News Editor

Researchers don’t know exactly what they are dealing with at the recently discovered Walker artifact find, but they know it’s something very interesting, according to one of the researchers involved.

Mathew Mattson, one of the researchers involved in the Leech Lake Heritage Program on the Leech Lake Reservation, told an audience of over 70 people gathered Sunday at Wahoo Valley that they are looking at something 13,000 or more years old.

“The Walker find is guaranteed to be controversial because of its age,” Mattson said, as the conventional wisdom is that the first native Americans arrived here roughly 10,000 years ago. The finding of some flint points at a dig just south of the city of Walker in the past three years, if authenticated, could push that date back perhaps 5,000 years - much earlier than most archeologists and paleontologists have thought in the past.

The items found are all stone and consequently cannot be dated accurately by carbon dating methods used and accepted by researchers. So their finds are subject to questioning.
“We don’t have a smoking gun,” Mattson said, meaning hard evidence of the time period.
Ideally, he added, joking with his audience, he and fellow heritage site researchers will have to find a hand clutching one of their stone points with a date stamped on the hand. Even that may not be enough evidence to convince some people in academic circles who have questioned the items found in the past three years.

“We don’t have a classic projectile point,” Mattson said, speaking at the annual meeting of the Old Wadena Society. He described how the ‘dig’ at Walker began in 2004 merely to determine if there was any evidence of an early culture at that point, prior to plans to develop roads and a housing project. They first dug in a depression in the ground, thinking it might be a cellar from some early settlers’s shanty. Instead, Mattson said, “It turned out to be an old kids fort, probably built in the 1950’s or 60’s.”

To be sure, they excavated another meter below that level. Shortly before they planned to stop, they found a flake or chip off a larger stone. They immediately felt it was similar to flakes made by early man trying to make a sharp point for a spear.
“Ooops, this doesn’t belong here,” Mattson said.

Six more units or excavations were conducted in 2005, with researchers opening up 33 units in 2006. Altogether, they recovered about 90 artifacts they are now studying, mostly hammer stones and flakes. “We moved 82 tons of dirt, all with a shovel and trowel. And we screened every bit of it,” he added.

Unfortunately, from his point of view, the press got ahold of the story via a leaked memo and the scientific community has split over the find. Too many conclusions have been drawn before researchers have been able to do a complete analysis of what they have found, he said.
“We don’t know exactly what it is, but feel its very interesting. We have something going on here,” he said.

Following his talk, Dr. Duane Lund was presented with the 2007 Founders Award from the Old Wadena Society. Lund, whose books include several references to the Old Wadena site and other historical points along the Crow Wing River, received a plaque and a Pendleton blanket.
Dr. Lund, in thanking the group, said in the 1960’s he attempted to interest Minnesota Historical Society authorities in the Old Wadena location but had little success. Later, as a member of the Concordia College board of directors, Dr. Charles Mayo II viewed Old Wadena when they were looking for a site for the Concordia language camps. While rejecting the Crow Wing River site in favor of lakeshore locations, Dr. Mayo felt Old Wadena had historical interest and was instrumental in getting MHS people to at least look at historical aspects of the first white settlement in Wadena County.

The Old Wadena Society members attending the annual meeting, a group formerly known as the Wadena Historic and Environmental Learning Project (WHELP), officially approved the name change as recommended by the board of directors.
The group’s membership also approved their annual financial statement, approved a new articles of incorporation with the name change and elected a 12-member board of directors.
The board includes John Crandall from Wadena, Mary Harrison from Sebeka, Greg Leifermann and Tom Crawford from Motley and from Staples, Ruth Chapman, Don Droubie, Tom Kajer, Myra King, Russ Lee, Lloyd Nelson and Mel Weins. Dave Mattila from Sebeka volunteered to fill an open spot on the board.
Leifermann is the president and Harrison the vice president.
Those attending included members of the Todd and Wadena County Historical societies as well as the Verndale Historical Society
The Old Wadena Society annually sponsors the Old Wadena Rendezvous and Folk Music Festival, this year on August 10, 11 and 12.

First Post for the Old Wadena Society

The Old Wadena Society just held its annual meeting at Wahoo Valley Restaurant on the Crow Wing River. The featured speaker was Mathew Mattson, an archaeologist working in the Walker, Minnesota area. He spoke about the prehistory of Minnesota.

One amazing fact he related was that during the latest ice age the headwaters of the Mississippi was where Old Wadena Park now is, rather than an hour or so north by car at Itasca State Park. The glaciers extended this far.

The Society's annual Founders Award was presented to Dr. Duane Lund for his lifetime achievement in preserving the history and environment of the region. Dr. Lund is the author of 42 books, and he continues to work on more. He is a true inspiration to us all.