12.25.2009

Wisconsin: Home of the Snowmobile - and the Servais Antique Snowmobile Museum

Sarah Palin may call them "snow machines," but in the land of their birth, we call them by their rightful name, the name they've borne since the 1930s: snowmobile.

Odd Wisconsin History takes a brief look at the genesis of the snowmobile in the 1920s in the northern part of the state.  The post mentions a number of museums Up North that display historic snowmobiles.























I just wanted to note that my grandpa Francis maintains what many visitors have described as the largest collection of antique snowmobiles in existence in Champion, Wisconsin.  At what's been dubbed the Servais Snowmobile Museum, he has over 220 snowmobiles organized by year and make in his old dairy barn, most dating from the 1960s and 1970s when they began to enjoy widespread commercial popularity.  As I know from personal experience, it's a chore to move them around at the holidays any time Grandpa makes a trade or makes a new acquisition.  But it's well worth it - the collection is pretty impressive, and it's interesting to trace the development of the snowmobile form in Arctic Cat, Polaris, Ski-Doo, and a host of other more obscure brands.

















Grandpa also has a good number of gimmick snowmobiles back in the silo room - an "electric snowmobile" with a long, long cord; a propane powered snowmobile with tank in its hood; a stretch limo extended snowmobile; and a "jet-powered" snowmobile that you'll have to see for yourself.

















I've never been to the snowmobile museums in Eagle River, St. Germain, and Sayner, but I've heard from people who have been...that Grandpa's museum is more comprehensive and has more snowmobiles overall.

If you know of anyone who has an old snowmobile (pre-1975) who may be interested in displaying it at the museum or donating it to the museum (or even trading), just get in touch.