As Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs (AWSC) Miss Snowflake AJ Kreager (left) presides, the 2022 Badger State Games torch is passed from Karen Reed of the Sayner Barnstormers Snowmobile Club to Carla Klein of St. Germain’s Bo-Boen Snowmobile Club during a Torch Tour stop in St. Germain. —Photos By Wally Geist
As Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs (AWSC) Miss Snowflake AJ Kreager (left) presides, the 2022 Badger State Games torch is passed from Karen Reed of the Sayner Barnstormers Snowmobile Club to Carla Klein of St. Germain’s Bo-Boen Snowmobile Club during a Torch Tour stop in St. Germain. —Photos By Wally Geist
During the World Championship Snowmobile Derby season in Eagle River, snowmobile is the word in the North Woods.

Snowmobile became the name of the popular power sport machine after original names such as motor toboggan described the very first powered snow machine, but with design changes the name changed as well.

Sayner, a census-designated place in the Town of Plum Lake, lays claim to the title “Birthplace of the Snowmobile.”

During a gathering designed to bring Wisconsin Tourism Secretary-Designee Anne Sayers up to date on the machine that has so heavily influenced the North Woods and, in fact, the whole state and nation, Jona Eliason explained the process her grandfather, Carl Eliason, went through to create the first snowmobile.

The historical museum located inside Eliason Hardware Co. in downtown Sayner includes Carl Eliason’s first attempt at a motorized snow machine and continues through several refinements. Eliason explained that her grandfather, an Ironwood, Mich. native, was born with a club foot, which made snowshoeing virtually impossible. Later living and working in Sayner, inventor-entrepreneur Eliason had the space and materials he needed to create a machine to help him enjoy North Woods winter activities.

The first chain-drive machine was physically a little more than a sled, but in time Eliason created a machine that would glide over all the bumps a trail could provide. That generation of snow machine used a powered tread that would ride up and down while the machine slid along and over the bumps on flat ski-like runners.

Eventually, the machine would have a windscreen and larger seat. The original engine would he moved to the rear of the machine for stability and greater steering control.

The machine can be traced to Eliason’s 1924 hand-made sled. Patents were taken out on the various parts and refinements of the machine in 1927 and, when they expired, Polaris took over the construction of the machines from Four Wheel Drive Corp. (FWD) of Clintonville.

While designed for recreational riding, during World War II the U.S. Army became interested in the machines for moving men and equipment in snowy locations. Some of the machines were also put into service by researchers in Antarctica.

Eliason’s design greatly influenced all of the major snowmobile manufacturers.

More information is available online at eliason-snowmobile.com/.

Also present for Sayer’s visit were Dennis and Anita Horan from Sayner’s Barnstormers Snowmobile Club, Travel Wisconsin regional tourism specialist Andrew Nussbaum, and two area chamber of commerce representatives — Jessica Drallmeier from Sayner and Penny Strom from St. Germain.

While in the North Woods last week, Sayers was carrying the torch for the opening ceremony of the 33rd annual Badger State Winter Games (BSG), Wisconsin’s largest annual Olympic-style sporting competition for amateur athletes of all ages and athletic abilities.