Tag Archives: snow mobiles

Snowmobile History

The History Of The Snowmobile

While the snowmobile is clearly a big hit in the modern day, the history of the machine can be traced back to the start of the 20th century. While there is some debate about the origins of the snowmobile, with various parties claiming they were responsible for its development, there is no doubt that there have been some notable landmarks in the development of the machine, and the activity itself.

The first recorded machine that was deigned to operate on snow dates back to 1908 in Waterville in Maine but this was a large and cumbersome vehicle. The following year, a rough snow machine that could be steered was designed by a man known as OC Johnson.

A major step forward was taken in 1913 when a track and ski unit kit conversion for the Model T Ford was created in New Hampshire. However, there was a similar variant created in Waterville at the same time, even though neither inventor was aware of the other one. However, the version created in New Hampshire by Virgil White was the first time that the snowmobile name was used. The Model T, given its popularity, was the inspiration for many variants and in 1922, J Armand Bombardier was responsible for creating a sled that was driven by wind but which had a Model T engine. Bombardier developed a reputation for developing snowmobiles.

Earl Eliason is a big name in the development of snowmobiles

A landmark development in the history of snowmobiles came in 1924 in Sayner in Wisconsin with Earl Eliason being regarded by many people as being the originator of the snowmobile. He was the pan who patented and manufactured machines, referred to as a motor toboggan, for close to 20 years, before selling the rights to a company who continued with production until the 1960s.

While the early variants were all of a simple standard, something which is more akin to what is recognised as being a modern day snowmobile was created in 1954. Polaris Industries was the company behind it, although all of the work and effort put in to the machine was down to one partner David Johnson. The other partners were unaware that Johnson had been working on the project and advised him to sell the machine, and to their surprise, it sold.
The first machine had a number of issues, but as they manufactured it, Polaris felt responsible for servicing it, and after a journey to back the machine out of snow, there was a decision to make a new machine to assist with this process. This led to the reaction of the Polaris Sno Traveler, which was manufactured for a number of years at the end of the 1950s.

Minnesota played a  vital role in the development of snow mobiles

The same period also saw the company setting up a dealer network around the country with Yarmouth in Maine being set up as the base of the Eastern distribution. It was found that the layout of Minnesota, flatter than Maine with more changeable conditions, was a better location for the snow vehicles, and this became the hub of snow mobiles at the time. The developments made between 1961 and 1966 have led many people to call this part of the country the home of modern snowmobiles and there is even a snowmobile museum located in this area.

The advances of technology has probably had as much of an impact on the development of snowmobiles in recent years, but clearly the initial forays into this style of vehicle has had an impact on what is perceived as the modern snowmobile today.

While the initial developments of the first snow mobiles were built to make life and transport easier, modern snowmobiles are as much regarded for their speed and ability to race. Snowmobile racing is now an integral part of the US gaming community, as well being an entertainment activity that is revered around the world.