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.
Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum
P.O. Box 2
Naubinway, MI 49762
Hours: 906 477-6298
Appointment: 906 477 6192
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