In the winter of 1857, Gus Aspinwall snowshoed here from St. Paul to try to make his fortune. Having abandoned a site (later called Grand Rapids) he thought too far ahead of the frontier. Gus had big plans for the ground where you stand - a bustling railroad station, steamboat landing, town square, and over 1,500 building lots.
With trade established here and the well used 240 mile Red River Oxcart Trail crossing the Crow Wing River just above this spot, it seemed like a good gamble. Gus called his town Wadena. His brother Nat drew the survey. Wadena was registered in St. Cloud as the county seat.
But the financial panic of 1857 suddenly made settlers cash poor, and the Indian War worsened relations between native tribes and whites. The Civil War drew men away. Worst of all, the promised railroad was laid four miles south.
Gus's post office, store and boarding house near 4th & Main lasted a few short years. All that is left is a faded town plot and the cut to the old rope ferry.