by Joel Schnell
Released March 2, 2015
Getting around ruffed grouse country in winter is a challenge. The birth of the practical, production snowmobile right here in Minnesota was brought on by a need of hunters, ice fisherman, loggers and other outdoorsmen to travel the snows. That history is celebrated by vintage snowmobile shows around the state.
The Waconia Ride-In
An annual event celebrates the history of the snowmobile, the Waconia Ride-In. A classic sled round-up, it’s not about restored trailer queens (though some fine display machines are shown), but rather rideable iron. If you don’t see it here, it’s a rare breed indeed. A fine way to spend a winter’s afternoon on a frozen lake, there’s hospitality, a swap meet, trail ride, and just plain goofing off surrounded by sleds of our youth.
Living the History
In 1955 Edger and Allen Hetteen created Polaris Industries in Roseau to build their Sno Traveler. Later Edger started a new company that became Arctic Cat. By the early 1960’s there were over 100 manufacturers of snowmobiles.
For shade-tree mechanics, there is a wealth of old snowmobiles in backyards, garages and sheds all across the snow belt waiting to be restored. Early machines were simple and similar in design across brands. Parts such as Mikuni carburetors were shared by many brands and aftermarket parts are available by mail order.
If you have an interest, join in the fun!
Publisher Joel Schnell can be reached by email