Historical Photos

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Historic Photos header

Kresian photo 

Kresian photo
- Ernest Kresian on left and his brother Charlie on the right.
behind: Baehr Clothing, Recreation Parlor and City Meat Market
On the wagon it reads: City Dray Line Phone 43.
Jefferson St Wadena 

WADENA IN 1878
- A picture of Jefferson Street looking South.


farming 

FARMING
- Farming in the old days.
fire department 

WADENA FIRE DEPT – 1880


Oylen baseball team 

OYLEN BASEBALL TEAM – 1914
- Left to Right: Hollis GOodall, Carl Perkins, Joe Granby, Harry Johnston, Charley Worling, Anton Granby, Carl Berg, Ray Bacon, Thorvald Granby
Oylen baseball 1914 

OYLEN BASEBALL TEAM – 1914
- Back Row left to right: Joe Granby, Harry Johnston, Ray Bacon, Fred Berg, Charles Worling
Front Row: Carl Perkins, Thorvold Granby, Anton Granby, Hollis Goodall


Wadena grade school 

BACK IN TIME – WADENA GRADE SCHOOL
- This is a post card which is owned by the Wadena County Historical Society of a grade school picture in Wadena. If anyone can help identify the students and/or teacher, please contact the Wadena County Historical Society.
Peterson Biddick Co 

PETERSON BIDDICK COMPANY


w.w.2- roll of honor 

ROLL OF HONOR MILITARY DISPLAY BY COURT HOUSE
- This was taken in 1945 when the American Legion Wadena Post #171 dedicated this to the World War 2 veterans of Wadena county.
50th Anniversary 

50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH- 1930
- In the back row from left to right: Allie Hartman, Ethel Bluhm, Margie Peterson, Dorothy Anderson, Lulu Davis, Ruth Saunders, Bernice Boss, Laura Johnson.In the front row from left to right: Mrs. Kale, Oddie Chermak, Mrs. Adolph Anderson, Hilda Nutting, Myrabell Zosel, Mrs. Russell Spink, Phyllis Davis
Mrs. Kale and Mrs. Spink lived a short time in Wadena.


1915-1920 church 

Methodist Church- 1915-1920
- This picture is in the basement of the Methodist Church when basketball hoops were on the east and west sides of the basement.
radar squadron control 

739TH RADAR SQUADRON HELICOPTER


Mayor of Wadena 

Mayor Henry Ebner of Wadena
Mr. Ebnor Frank 

Photo of Frank Ebner


Chief Flatmouth 

Photo of Chief Flatmouth
- He actually gave land to Wadena
Chief Flatmouth 2 

Another photo of the famous Chief Flatmouth


street parade 

Wadena street scene
- Wadena Street Scene in the early 60′s. In the back ground note Rex McDonald’s Studio which is still in operation in 2009. The Wadena Cafe and and Vollie’s Ladies Apparel have been out of business for many years.
Methodist church 

First Methodist Episcopal Church – 1880

739th air base 

739th Wadena Air Base – 1950′s
Chief Wadena 

Chief Wadena in the center

Verndale train depot 

Verndale Depot and train
Verndale depot 

Verndale Depot – 1880
next to the building is a baggage cart

Egleston_JewelryStore 

John L. Egleston Jewelry Store
- Optometric Office about 1915 located at 105 Jefferson Street South —The site of Time Jewelry in 2009.
Oscar Lundberg on left, Rudolph Pafferath on right. Oscar and Rudolph were employees.
Mr. Egleston opened the store around 1904.
Picture donated by Jessie Egleston Allison of Homeland, California
GreatNorthern_Track 

Great Northern is laying track north of Wadena
this photo was taken in 1890.

Merickel men photo 

Merickel men photo
- Left to Right rear:
Fred C. Merickel Born 1879, Died 5/11/1911
William S. Merickel Born 5/22/1879, Died 9/16/1941
John W. Merickel Born 9/26/1872, Died ?
Front Left to Right:
Watson Delano Born 3/2/1859, Died 2/3/1934
George A. Merickel Born 2/6/1882. Died ?.
Arthur Jesse. Born 2/30/1863, Died. 10/25/1946
 

739th Air Control & Squadron

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Wadena 739th Air Control Squadron

739th radar

A brief history of the local air base

In the Pioneer Journal of  July 7, 1949 is the first mention of any interest in constructing a radar station in Wadena county. The location selected was locally known as Bell Hill, the highest point in the area, owned by Elmer Erickson, in Section 9,  Leaf River township, 36 acres in the southwest  quarter of the southwest quarter. This was a portion of Mr. Erickson’s farm and was purchased for $3,600.
There is no further mention in the newspaper of the air base until late in 1951 when an article entitled “Now It Can Be Told” appears.  It states that the Wadena Radar Station, was started a little over two  years ago and is part of the system established by the Air Defense Command of the U. S. Air Force,  to protect the continental United States from enemy attack.  This was a part of a joint project by the Canadian and United States to form a protective ring of radar warning stations against foreign attack. This consisted of the Dew Line in northern Canada and Alaska, the Mid Canada  line in central Canada and the Pine Tree Line of which Wadena was a part. It further states that “Our Job involves warning of  enemy planes  which might attack this area, through the use of radar.”
It also stated that while the secret is out, and publicity restrictions are off, the base continues to be a restricted area  for civilians, and only Air Force personnel are allowed on the grounds.
The Wadena Air Force Station was activated on May 20, 1950 as the 132nd Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron of the Minnesota National Guard, with 16 officers  and 109 enlisted personnel authorized.
On February 1, 1953, the 132nd was deactivated with the 739th AC & W Squadron being activated.
On January 15, 1960, the 739th became the 739th Radar Squadron as the unit moved from a manual to semi-automatic environment.
During these years the radar system  was continually upgraded and expanded.  Old timers remember three radar units or balloon units set atop of the  hill on the west side of the area.  I am told that one of these units was for distance detection, one for height finding and the third for back up in the event of a failure.
The 739th Radar Squadron (SAGE) was deactivated in September of 1970.  At this time it was part of the 29th Air Division (SAGE).
Although there is no mention of it in the newspaper there was at least a portion of the construction contract awarded to the Frank Bass Construction Company of Minneapolis, as the Company opened a charge account  with the Wadena Hardware Company and was a wonderful account during the construction period. The contract  was for cost plus ten percent and there was an incident where supposedly a semi load of asphalt tile cement froze and was ruined.
Getting back to the function and operation of the base.  The area  included the following:  An orderly room with base finance office, operations building which controlled the three silos, recreation hall, including a library, Special Services office, a mailroom,  a base exchange with a wide stock of merchandise for sale, a movie theater  offering movies three evenings a week, a dining or mess hall, an officer’s club, an Airmen’s or NCO club, a medical dispensary of three rooms and a dental office. In addition a monthly newspaper, the Antenna was published, intramural sports were played and they had a tennis court.  Also base teams in baseball, softball and basketball were formed to play area teams.
The purpose of the Base was to locate and report all aircraft coming into the area.  This was accomplished by the work of an operations officer heading a group of enlisted men consisting of three groups of enlisted men of approximately 6 members each working three days of  8 a. m. to 4 p. m.; three days 4 p. m to midnight; and three days of midnight to 8 a. m. and then three days off. I find conflicting views on the number of men involved with each crew running from six to fifteen men. This group consisted of a crew chief and assistant crew chief and radar scope operators with necessary back up. Upon the discovery of unidentified aircraft this information was immediately relayed to Grand Forks or Duluth for evaluation and necessary action.
In a brochure published by the Base for the benefit of incoming Airmen it also describes the many features and benefits of the city of Wadena.
Housing for families of officers and enlisted personnel was accomplished when twenty seven houses, with two or three bedrooms,  were built on land purchased from Archie Gilbert, south of the base, and across 200th Street in Section 16.  Nine being built in 1954 and the balance in 1958.    Of these as near as I can determine, were three for officers and twenty four for enlisted personnel. After the squadron was deactivated  the houses were sold off with only three remaining in 2008. One of these homes, a three bedroom rambler sold to Lyle Walz for $10,600 in 1986 and moved  to a location in northeast Wadena.
The relationship of the air base and its personnel with Wadena and the surrounding territory was very good.  The base marching  unit took part in many parades and events in Wadena.  They held many social affairs and dances at the Pine Cove Inn and Memorial Auditorium for base personnel and the general public. These included a Leap Year Dance, Annual Military Ball featuring the St. Paul Symphony Dance Band with KWAD doing a portion of the program, a Christmas Military Ball and a Thanksgiving Dance and basketball game. The relations between base personnel and locals must have been good because of many marriages between base  men and Wadena women.
A few other projects reported in the Pioneer Journal were: 1952 they held an open house to demonstrate to the public how air defense works.
In 1953 the air base  baseball team was in the Lake & Pine League play off. I never did find out who won that.
In 1961 an NCO Wives club was formed.
In 1963 the air base personnel donated 146 pints of blood to the Red Cross. I am sure that this was a continuing thing as was an Annual Field Day for military and civilian personnel.
In 1968 the Station held a formal retreat formation, an annual event marking the beginning of the summer season.  Also that year the Station mess hall was first runner up in the Headquarters, Tenth  Air Force mess hall competition.
In 1969 Judge Hugh G. Parker, Judge of Probate in Wadena presented Staff Sergeant and Mrs. Philip Marquez a plaque  for their service to the children of Wadena county for the past three and one half years.
Some, but probably not all of the commanding officers at the base were Captain Charles  Denham, Major Martin Lee, Lt. Col. Thomas Witt, Major Robert Evers, Captain John Frahm, Major Benjamin Gildart, Major I. D. Siegel, Major Frank S. Puente, Captain Frederick Bongard, Major John A. Bosseler, Lt. Colonel Merton J. Frankie, Major Marvin S. Heller, Major Russell H. Hanson, Major Russell J. Swanson, Captain Burl Coursey and Lt. William Altenhoffen.
Unfortunately in March of 1970 word was received  that the 739th Radar Squadron would  be deactivated by September 30th.  This affected 120 military and 14 civilian personnel.
It was stated that world wide there would be 371 bases closed, 93,900 jobs affected and a savings to the government of $1,323 billion dollars.
It was reported in April of that year that a local committee was seeking uses for the abandoned base.   Among the suggested uses was housing for students  of two entire T. O. W. regions.  Dr. Robert Boyd, a retired college professor, a Wadena boy, was appointed as representative  to acquire the radar site for the School District.
Nothing came of these discussions and the place sat vacant, under caretaker Dale Carr of Verndale,  until October of  1973  when the ownership was turned over to Wadena County by the Federal government with the proviso that it be used for some type of health care. Thus at that time the Multi County Health Center came into being.  In late 1978 the name was changed to Bell Hill Recovery Center.
The director in 2008 is Ross Olson and they have room for 93 patients with the average patient load at about 80 people, with the average stay about 90 days. Patients are from any county in the state of Minnesota and are primarily for treatment of alcoholism.
Jimmie White of Wadena has prepared an article discussing the technical aspects of the radar base which is on file at the Wadena County Historical Society. Information for this article was gathered from former enlisted personnel of the Base.
He also advises that they will be having their second annual reunion of Air Base  personnel September 19, 20 and 21. This will headquarter out of the VFW club room.