Snowmobiles contribute to Wisconsin's history and economy
ST. GERMAIN (WAOW)—Snowmobiling injects $7 billion into the U.S. economy every year and is vital to the economic strength of Wisconsin's Northwoods according to Loren Anderson, founder and president of the Snowmobile Hall of Fame.
"We call this the world center of snowmobiling. The Northwoods could not survive without winter tourism. The biggest hunk of that is snowmobiling" Anderson told Newsline 9.
The concept of snowmobiling was invented in Vilas County by Carl Eliason in 1924. Eliason was seeking news ways of transportation that could take him through the forests more efficiently than on snowshoe.
According to statistics released by the Snowmobile Hall of Fame, Highway 70 West, St. Germain, Wis., there are now more than two million registered snowmobiles in North America. That puts regions like northern Wisconsin that typically see abundant snow totals in competition to lure valuable snowmobile tourist dollars.
"Snowmobiling provides millions of dollars to the snowbelt throughout the U.S. and Canada. So when others pray for sun and 90 degrees, we pray for cold and two feet of snow" Anderson said smiling.
This winter's unusual weather has impacted the snowmobiling industry in Wisconsin. Most trails south of Wausau remain closed because the base of snow remains too low. The Northwoods is one of the only regions in the state where there is enough consistent snow cover to keep trails open.
"That's why we're here to promote it, and keep the north green; and to do that we have to have white" Anderson said.
The Hall of Fame inducts four people annually in recognition of their contributions to the sport. The class of 2012 includes Minocqua, Wis., native Larry Bosacki.
Bosacki will be honored along with Toni Haikonen of Finland, Marcel Fontaine of Canada and Joey Hallstrom of Minnesota. The inductions correspond with the 29th annual Ride With The Champs snowmobile ride on Sat. Feb. 18th.