History of Snowmobiling
in Minnesota

Search the Minnesota Visitor Website


The history of snowmobiling is firmly rooted in Minnesota and snowmobiling Minnesota trails is a favorite winter outdoor activity for many.

History of Snowmobiling

There are disputes over the origins of the snowmobile with Wisconsin, Minnesota and Canada all claiming to be where it was first invented in the 1920s.

Everyone agrees, however, that the first modern snowmobile was introduced by Minnesota-based Polaris.

Edgar and Allen Hetteen and David Johnson of Roseau, Minnesota were among the first to build a usable snowmobile in 1955–1956. Early snow machines were heavy and slow.

The company they started, Hetteen Hoist & Derrick Co., eventually became Polaris Industries. In 1959, when engines became lighter and smaller, Bombardier invented what we now know as the modern snowmobile and began to market it as the "Ski-doo".

Competitors began to copy and improve the design and to manufacture and ship snowmobiles across the country and around the world for work and recreational use.

Early snowmobiles were modified Ford Model Ts with the undercarriage replaced with tracks and skis. They were popular for rural mail delivery for a time.

Another preeminent snowmobile manufacturers shares in the history of the snowmobile. The Arctic Cat brand name is among the most widely recognized and respected names in the snowmobile industry.

Some Artic Cat snowmobile history timelines include:

  • 1955: Pete Peterson commissions a 'gas-powered sled' from Hetteen Hoist and Derrick.
  • 1958: Snowmobiles become the primary business of Hetteen Hoist and Derrick, later renamed Polaris Industries.
  • 1960: Hetteen sells controlling interest in Polaris Industries.
  • 1961: Hetteen moved operations to Thief River Falls, Minnesota, and founded Polar Manufacturing Company.
  • 1962: Polar Manufacturing is renamed Arctic Enterprises, Inc.; Arctic Cat 100, the first front-engined sport sled, is introduced.

Development of the snowmobile led to a revolution in how Minnesotans view winter. Minnesota now has tens of thousands of residents riding thousands of miles of marked and groomed trails and loving Minnesota snowmobiling.

Communities all over the state benefit from the history of snowmobiling by sponsoring extreme snowmobiling events and races.

The snowmobile has had a positive impact on the Minnesota tourism industry, farming, and ranching, and search-and-rescue efforts. In times of blizzards and snow emergencies we often rely on snowmobiles to transport residents to needed services or destinations.

Snowmobiling has contributed millions of dollars to countless small businesses throughout Minnesota. Of the hundreds of manufacturers that entered the snowmobile business, only four remain., Two of those are major employers in northern Minnesota: Arctic Cat in Thief River Falls and Polaris in Roseau.

The History of Snowmobiling in Minnesota is
Celebrated with Vintage Snowmobile Races

More Vintage Snowmobiling Videos


More Winter Sports Links:

Snowmobiling Minnesota

Extreme Snowmobiling

Minnesota Cross-Country Skiing

Cross-Country Skiing Basics

How to Ice Skate

More About Learning to Ice Skate

Ice Fishing in Minnesota

Skijoring in Minnesota

Dogsledding Tours in Minnesota

Extreme Sledding

Snow Sledding

Minnesota Winter Activities

List of Winter Sports

Minnesota Ski Resorts

Back to Minnesota Winter


Book Your Minnesota Vacation

Best Prices on Minnesota Hotels at Hotels.Com


Minnesota Vacation Rentals


Shop the Largest Collection of Bed and Breakfast Inns at BedandBreakfast.com


Budget Minnesota Vacation Packages


Check out US Travelers' most wanted destinations!




ACT NOW! Save Up To 70%! For A Limited Time Only At AirportParkingReservations.com!


Ticket Liquidator: Minnesota Events Tickets and Venues Get deeply discounted tickets on top Minnesota sporting events, concerts, and shows. Timberwolves, Golden Gophers, Top Concerts ....More. Continuously Updated with current ticket offers.

Find cheap country music tickets





Minnesota Vacation Rentals by VRBO - Choose a vacation rental in a specific area or get ideas about some of the best Minnesota vacation destinations before you decide. Take a look at some of these fantastic properties and locations for your group of any size.

Lodging in Minnesota - Hotels - Resorts - Bed & Breakfast Inns - Vacation Rentals


Ticket Liquidator: Minnesota Events Tickets and Venues Get deeply discounted tickets on top Minnesota sporting events, concerts, and shows. Timberwolves, Golden Gophers, Top Concerts ....More. Continuously Updated with current ticket offers.


Minnesota Entertainment: Discount tickets to sporting events, concerts and shows. Save up to 50%.

Top Things to Do in Minnesota Every area of Minnesota has unique attractions and activities. This is the best interactive list of the fun to be found everywhere in the state.


Minnesota State Parks: From Afton to Zippel Bay


Made in Minnesota

Minnesota Gifts & Souvenirs

Minnesota Visitor Site Map

About Me


Contact Us

Minnesota Visitor Home Page

Judith Ramsey - Publisher
Copyright © 2005 ~ 2016
All Rights Reserved


Amazon Associates Disclosure
 - Judith Ramsey is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Thank you for supporting this site so I can continue to bring you Visit Minnesota.


Advertise On Visit Minnesota




Minnesota Events Ticket Sales

TicketLiquidator Logo




Recent Articles

  1. Visit Minnesota

    Aug 18, 17 12:21 PM

    Visit Minnesota vacation travel guide with a focus on the top 10 vacation destinations in Minnesota.

    Read More

  2. Visit a Lake Superior Lighthouse

    Aug 16, 17 10:19 AM

    The most famous Lake Superior lighthouse is the Split Rock lighthouse. Visit it and other Lake Superior lighthouses.

    Read More

  3. 10 Best Vacation Spots in Minnesota - Vacation Travel Guides

    Aug 09, 17 08:16 AM

    Visit the 10 best vacation spots in Minnesota. These vacation travel guides showcase the top ten Minnesota tourist attractions across every region of the state.

    Read More









Enjoy Winter Activities
in Minnesota State Parks


Minnesota State Parks:
From Afton to Zippel Bay




Advertising Disclosure

Privacy Policy