I became part of the sport of snowmobiling when I married into it in 1976.
My husband was the son of a man involved in snowmobiles deeply. Even before we were married I was invited to go snowmobiling at “the farm”. I had no experience riding a snowmobile at that time.
After being married, the first event I was invited to was the Hetteen Cup oval race in Alexandria, Mn. in 1977. His parents invited us, the newly weds, to the weekend event. We stayed at a hotel in Alexandria and met a few of their friends at the evening meal that night. I remember how exciting it was to watch the racers compete on snowmobiles of many different companies. I also remember that Scorpion won the race and Brad Hulings was the race driver of that winning sled. The owner of Arctic Cat went down to shake hands, present the trophy and a boat to the winner. It was a wonderful event.
It was fun to be a part of a family that went snowmobiling together at “the farm” in Wanaska, Mn. I learned how to ride my own sled that first year instead of riding double behind my husband. He was riding a 1976 Pantera with a mid-mounted gas tank, black and orange trim, a cross between a panther and an El Tigre. I remember it well. I got the 1975 Panther to use, which was also a fine sled. The snowmobile trails were part of Hayes Park and then traveled along the ditches going into Roseau, Mn. Going there and back to catch a bite to eat, just a round trip, ending back to “the farm” to play cards and share stories of the trip.
The children of the family learned at a young age to ride a snowmobile by using Grandpa’s airplane runway covered with powder snow to practise, before they could take to the trails on their own. We would take shorter trips for the day when the children were along. Grandma was famous for her potato/carrot aluminum packs that she would put in a open fire, to cook for us to eat along the trail. The hot chocolate in a thermos bottle was very inviting to drink when we would take a break along the trail. Many times there was a larger crew of us, and we would stop at Bemis Hill for sledding and a fire in the fireplace in the building. In the 1980’s and 1990’s we would experience riding the Polaris snowmobiles like the 1990 Polaris Indy Sport GT and 1994 XLT.
In 1998 his parents moved to Grand Rapids, MN. We still continued to snowmobile the trails and our son got married to his wife. And then our daughter got married to her husband. That added more members to the family, including more children. We extended our trail riding to other areas like Ironwood, MI and Superior, WI making a weekend out of it each time.
We continued to have lots of experiences with trail riding around Grand Rapids, Mn. when we moved there also in 2006. Our married children and grandchildren continue to come up for weekends of winter to enjoy the beautiful trails in Grand Rapids, Mn. The resource of plenty of snow comes and goes and riding snowmobiles stays in our blood. The old folks pass on to new horizons and babies continue to be born into the family. The stories of young experiences and yesteryear are told to the grandchildren and the history of snowmobiling lives on.
The sport of snowmobiling continues to grow every year when new sleds come out for people to ride. The ASCOA and the VSCA also encourage snowmobile history to never be forgotten by having events to show original sleds and restored sleds at their events all over the USA. There are museums thoughout the United States that house these early models from the 50’s to the 80’s and people go to look at them as part of their vacation ventures.