History of Snowmobiling

Anyone that lives in a region where they have access to snow will usually want to enjoy it in some way. There are plenty of sports and recreational activities that allow for this. One of these is snowmobiling.

The First Snow Travelling Machine

This goes all the way back to 1909 when a crude piece of equipment was developed by O.C. Johnson built what was called a snow machine. Although big and awkward it did have the ability to glide across the top of the snow although at times this was a challenge. It had a one lunger engine and in length ranged about 10 feet.

It wasn’t under 1913 when a Ford Dealer came out with a design for a Model T Ford that was comprised of a track and ski unit. This was Mr. White and he conjured up the name “Snowmobile. Then Bombardier came into the snowmobile business when they designed a sleigh that was driven by the wind with the engine of a Model T.


What could be considered the breakthrough for the snowmobiledidn’t really take place until 1924. When Earl Eliason built what he called a motor toboggan. A simple toboggan made of wood with two skis being operated by a Johnson outdoor motor with 2 ½ horsepower. The track was comprised of steel cleats. Steering was done with simple ropes.

While all of this was quite intriguing what stood out about it the most was it had a front mounted engine that was liquid cooled and had a jackshaft. Mr. Eliason had made a business for himself as he created a patent for his machine and began building them until he sold the business in 1939 to FWD Corporation who continued to manufacture them right up until 1960.

As time progressed new manufacturers and designs came about to where it has led us to today.

The Names

Snowmobiling is done with a motorized vehicle and goes by several other names. Such as:

  • Motor Sledge
  • Motor Sled
  • Skimobile
  • Snowmachine
  • 2 Up Snowmobiles
  • Touring models.

The Design

When these were first manufacturers they were heavy and cumbersome and usually were able to transport two individuals. As the styles have changed over the years they have become lights and more sleek looking. However, the tradeoff is they are more appropriate for just one rider. These are not nearly as popular although they are still manufactured and are the ones referred to as the 2Up Snowmobiles or Touring Models.


For traction and grip the early snowmobiles depended in rubber tracks whereas now Kevlar composites is the choice for treads. Four stroke engines provides the power which replace the gasoline two stroke engines.

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