Upper Michigan Snowmobile History
History of the 1st Snowmobile
Although the first snowmobile ever made might be questionable, we do know that the first marketed snowmobile machine (that most closely resembles snowmobiles of today) was built in 1917.
Carl Eliason of Sayner, WI was a man who spent 31 years inventing and perfecting the “Motor Tobaggan”. He was a man that loved the outdoors, hunting, fishing, & trapping. Carl found it difficult to keep pace with his pals because of a bad foot, so begins his journey to create the first snowmobile. To read Carl’s Story in his own words, please visit: www.eliason-snowmobile.com/summary/carlword.htm
After completing the initial snow vehicle in the back of his general store, he took a great deal of ribbing from friends. When his first practical working motor toboggan went into production between 1922-26, it was an immediate success. Eliason received many orders and in five years he produced 40 machines, a major feat considering each one was built by hand.
Eliason, a blacksmith and dealer of our modern outboard motors, modified a 2.5 horsepower outboard for his power plant and fashioned the frame from metal heated over a coal stove. Steam for water boiling in the family washtub formed the wooden skis.
He averaged 8 machines a winter and still found time to experiment with projected improvements. In 1932, he introduced a better model that was powered by a converted motorcycle engine. It could go over 40 mph.
They were found extremely useful in northern areas for hunting, trapping and other winter work. He paved the way for other manufacturers.
When visiting Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, we invite you to stop by the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum to view their Vintage Sleds on Display, learn more about snowmobiling history and browse their numerous items for sale. www.snowmobilemuseum.com