"Where the history of snowmobiling comes to life"
1947 Eliason

1947 Eliason

There is some controversy as to who first built the snowmobile in the form as it is today, but it appears the first marketed machine was built by Carl Eliason of Sayner, WI about 1917.
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.

On Sept 20, 2019, The Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum was awarded a grant of $12,500 for Operational Support from the State of Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA – ART WORKS). The grant was awarded through the MCACA peer review process and was one of 561 applications to compete for MCACA fiscal year 2019 funding. The grant requires a 1:1 match and helped the museum leverage the $12,500 of support from its annual income and the many donations from supporters. In particular the museum has received grants from the Graymont Community Economic Development Fund and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. It has also received significant donations from the Antique Snowmobile Club of America, The Midwest Vintage Snowmobile Shows, Inc., many snowmobile clubs, several recreational and snowmobile shows, the museum’s internal $1,000.00 Challenge, and many museum members. The grant funds will be applied to museum operating costs. Applicable costs include internal operations, marketing, travel to shows within the State of Michigan and cost of employees. The MCACA peer review process allows for each grant applicant to be competitively considered by a panel of in-state and out-of-state arts and culture professionals. This ensures the taxpayers, who support this project through legislative appropriations, and all other visitors or residents in Michigan will have access to the highest quality arts and cultural experiences. A complete list of grant awards around the state is available by contacting MCACA at (517) 241-4011, or by visiting the MCACA website at
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Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum
P.O. Box 2
W11660 US-2
Naubinway, MI 49762
Hours: 906 477-6298
Appointment: 906 477 6192

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