Wadena County Origin


Wadena county is composed of fifteen townships each township is 6 miles by 6 miles and each contains 36 sections of land with the exception of Bullard and Thomastown which are slightly different configuration because their boundaries are aligned with the Leaf and Crow Wing Rivers.


In 1857 a man named Augustus Aspinwall laid out a town site in what is now Section 15, Thomastown Township at the junction of the Crow Wing and Partridge rivers and named it Wadena. In 1872 when the railroad went through the area it ran about three miles south of this site and thus the demise of this town. The County townships were surveyed in 1863 and the county officially organized in 1873, with the town of Wadena designated as the county seat.

During that period there were five organized townships, Wadena, Aldrich, Thomastown, Leaf River and Wing River and three county commissioners. The balance of the townships were organized between this time and 1899, with Huntersville and Orton, being the last two, which had been organized as one township in 1898 were split in 1899. At this time there are six organized towns in the county, Wadena, the county seat, Verndale, Sebeka, Menahga, Aldrich and Nimrod.
At one time Sebeka was the second largest creamery in the state of Minnesota. Over the years there have been approximately ten creameries in the county and ten cheese factories.

Click on the pictures below to view a full-size map.


  • Minnesota Map

  • Old county map

  • New county map

  • Current Google map
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Ghost towns:

Towns of the past in the county, included Central, Ferris, Kindred or Shell City, Leaf River and Oylen; unorganized villages in the county are Huntersville, and Blue Grass.

Post Offices:

In the early days there were many post offices in the county to serve people so they did not have to travel too far to get their mail. This was before the days of rural delivery. They included Kindred or Shell City, Wing River, Leaf River, Taylor’s Landing, Nimrod, Hoptacong, Farnham, Lukens, Passaic, Hartshorn, Ouichee, Bullard, Oye and Oylen. At the present time there are post offices in Menahga, Sebeka, Wadena, Verndale, and Aldrich.


There were two railroads in Wadena County. The first one being The Northern Pacific main line running east to west through Verndale and Wadena in 1872. The Great Northern branch or “K” line which ran from Sauk Centre to Bemidji, via Sebeka and Menahga arrived in 1891. This track was disbanded back in 1964.

Bus Lines:

At one time Wadena was served by the Greyhound Bus Line, Elliott Bros. Transportation Co., Northwest Transportation Co., Red Bus Line, Gray Bus Line, Liederbach Bus Co. and Mercury Bus line.

There are many river systems in the county. They are the Crow Wing River, Leaf River, Shell River, Blueberry River, Red Eye River, Wing River, Cat River, Partridge River, Kitten Creek, Big Swamp Creek, Little Swamp Creek, Kettle Creek, Stocking Creek, Farnham Creek, Union Creek, Whiskey Creek, and Hay Creek.

Historical Societies/clubs:

There are six historical societies in the county: Wadena County Historical Society, Verndale Historical Society, Sebeka Finnish American Historical Society, Menahga Historical Society, England Prairie Pioneer Club, and The Old Wadena Society.

School Districts:

Wadena County has four organized school districts, they are; Menahga, Sebeka, Verndale and Wadena. In 1906 the county had 52 school districts, most of which were rural school districts. The idea being no child should have to walk more than a mile to school.


Every town in the county has a city park. Other wild life areas and parks include: Sand Lake Wildlife Area, Lyons State Forest, Cottingham County Park, Huntersville State Forest, McGivern County Park.


Wadena County is bordered on the north by Hubbard County, on the east by Cass County, on the south by Todd County and on the west by Otter Tail and Becker Counties.


Wadena County has twenty-nine cemeteries located with in its borders.

Nursing Homes/Hospitals:

One can find nursing homes and/or assisted living facilities in Wadena, Menahga, Sebeka, and Verndale. There are two community hospitals one in Wadena and one in Staples.

Major Highways:

There are two U.S. highways in Wadena county, Highway #10 running east to west through Aldrich, Verndale and Wadena and Highway #71 from south to north through Wadena, Sebeka, Menahga. Three state highways run through the county MN State Hwy #29, which runs SW out of Wadena, MN State Hwy #87, which runs west to east through Menahga and MN State Hwy 227, which runs east of Sebeka through Nimrod.

Veteran organizations

Veteran organizations in the county: two VFW organizations, one in Menahga and one in Wadena, three American Legion posts located in Sebeka, Verndale and Wadena.


  • In 1900 the population of Wadena County was 7921.
  • In 1910 the population of Wadena County was 8652.
  • In 2000 the population of Wadena County was 13,713.
  • In 2010 the population of Wadena County was 13,843


There are 21 lakes located in the county.

  • Bill Lake – Blueberry Township
  • Blueberry Lake – Blueberry Township
  • Burgen Lake – Huntersville Township
  • Duck Lake – southeast edge in Huntersville Township, southwest edge in Shell River Township
  • Finn Lake – Shell River Township
  • Granning Lake – Lyons Township
  • Jim Cook Lake – Shell River Township
  • Lily Lake – north quarter in Lyons Township, south three-quarters in Bullard Township
  • Lovejoy Lake – Thomastown Township
  • Lower Twin Lake – east half in Shell River Township, west half in Blueberry Township
  • Mud Lake – Meadow Township
  • Radabaugh Lake – Thomastown Township
  • Rice Lake – Meadow Township
  • Round Lake – Huntersville Township
  • Simon Lake – Thomastown Township
  • Spirit Lake – Menahga
  • Stocking Lake – Blueberry Township
  • Strike Lake – Lyons Township
  • Thomas Lake – Blueberry Township
  • Upper Twin Lake – south edge in Shell River Township
  • Yaeger Lake – Meadow Township