While the current recreational snowmobile has a relatively recent history, it is not new to snow-travel.

Although the Wright Brothers were able to fly in 1903 with their aircraft, it wasn’t until 1908 that the first snowmobile was made. 

It was the Lombard log-hauler that was built in Waterville Maine. This machine, which was heavy and bulky, looked a lot like a steam engine but had front skis and a half-track design.

O.C. Johnson, an O.C. man was born in 1909. Johnson created an over-the-snow machine, which could be used on top of snow. It measured approximately 10 feet in length and had “one lunger engines”, which allowed for basic steering.

Virgil White was a Ford dealer from New Hampshire who invented a ski and track conversion for his Model T Ford in 1913.  

J. Armand Bombardier was 15 years old when he designed a wind-driven sleigh powered by a Model T engine. Bombardier would design many more snowmobiles from this model.

In Wisconsin, Sayner built one of the most impressive snowmobiles in history in 1924.  Earl Eliason was responsible for its invention. He called it his motor-toboggan. 

This was a wooden toboggan with two skis. The motor was powered by a Johnson outboard motor of 2.5 HP and the track was driven by an interminable steel cleated track. 

This was a liquid-cooled, front-mounted engine with a jack shaft. Modern snowmobiles have all these qualities. 

He patented his machine and made it until 1939, when he sold it to FWD Corporation of Canada. They continued building them until 1960.

In 1954, the first recreational snowmobile was invented. David Johnson was an associate of Polaris Industries’ Alan and Edgar Hetteen. 

Johnson designed the snowmobile on a weekend getaway, while his partners were unaware. The Polaris was the first snowmobile to be designed by Johnson, and it has been a leader in the field of snowmobile design ever since.