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Snow Goer History: 1966 to Present

By John Prusak

Snow Goer magazine has a rich and colorful history that in many ways reflects the twists and turns of the snowmobile world.

Snow Goer first cover

The first-ever issue of Snow Goer magazine, dated December 1966.

It was the fall of 1966 that the first issue of Snow Goer was mailed – labeled as the December 1966 issue. It was created by Ed and Joyce “Susie” Scholwin – a couple from the Northwoods of Wisconsin who knew very little about the magazine business but who had a deep passion for what was then the very new sport of recreational snowmobiling. Snow Goer was the first national snowmobiling magazine and, as such, it captured the sport’s rich history on its pages. The first couple of seasons of Snow Goer were creative and quirky – and a blast to page through now! But the magazine’s following grew quickly as snowmobiling exploded in popularity.

The Scholwins sold the magazine to The Webb Company – a giant magazine publishing company at the time – in the spring of 1969, giving it the stability and leadership it needed.

Keeping up with the burgeoning snowmobile market was certainly a major task in those days, as by some counts more than 300 brands of snowmobiles existed through the 1970s, though admittedly many were small and/or some private-label brands. But those were wild times. For example, issues of Snow Goer from 1970 featured the following brands on their covers: Sno Jet, Bolens, Skiroule, Allouette, Rupp, Polaris, Johnson, Ski-Doo and Mercury. Remember, that’s just the covers – inside were dozens of other brands, each with their own twist on what snowmobiling should be.

Snow Goer 1977

The December 1977 issue of Snow Goer. Click to enlarge.

Overproduction, oil embargoes and economic turmoil squashed many brands in the 1970s and ’80s, but it didn’t stifle innovation, as the December 1977 cover of Snow Goer magazine documented the sport’s evolution from rather crude chassis utilizing loud, wheezing, sourced engines to ergonomically designed, well-balanced chassis using higher-performance, higher-technology engines designed specifically for snowmobiling.

A further shakeout in the 1980s narrowed the number of manufacturers dramatically, and it even narrowed the field of snowmobile magazines as Snow Goer itself went out of print for five years after being sold to the Ehlert Publishing Group and melded into its competitive snowmobiling magazine, titled Snowmobile magazine. As a part of the purchase, Ehlert Publishing also acquired Snow Week magazine (a timely newsprint  publication covering snowmobile racing) and Snow Goer Trade (a business-to-business publication aimed at snowmobile dealers; it would immediately be renamed Snowmobile Business).  

Snow Goer was resurrected by Ehlert Publishing in 1990, however, just as the snowmobile industry was on the cusp of its own revival. The sport grew dramatically through the decade, driven by generally long, snowy winters and advanced snowmobiles that riders couldn’t wait to get their gloved hands on. Snow Goer was there, documenting it all, with more hard-hitting, opinionated coverage than what was offered by its in-house partner, Snowmobile magazine.

Ehlert Publishing – including its snowmobile magazines – was sold by founder John Ehlert to what was then called the Affinity Corporation (later known as Good Sam and Camping World Holdings) late in 1997 and eventually outlived is in-house sister publications, Snowmobile (which was published from 1981 until 2005) and the Snow Week (which was published from 1973 to 2008).

The October 1998 cover. Click to enlarge.

In 2012, the Camping World/Good Sam corporation sold its powersports publications and related products to a company previously known as Specialty Information Media, and together the new company combining the assets of both is now called EPG Media & Specialty Information.

Through the years, Snow Goer had had 11 lead editors:  Ed & Susie Scholwin combined (1966-69), Gene Schnaser (1969-72), Don Rankin (1972-77), Jerry Bassett (1977-84), Bill Monn (1984-85), Dick Hendricks (1990-92), Dan Hauser (1992-95), Drew Casey (1995), John Prusak (1996-2002), Eric Skogman (2002-04) Tim Erickson (2004-09), John Prusak (again, 2009-present).

Several other products have been launched out of the so-called “snow group” under various ownerships over the years, including the highly successful Big East

Powersports Show (also previously known as the Big East Snowmobile Show) in New York (1994-present), SnowGoer.com, Snow Goer TV, Invitation To Snowmobiling TV, The Ultimate Snowmobile Buyers Guide, Snow Trader, Inside Powersports and more. Plus, in 2007 while under the AGI umbrella, the Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Expo in Denver was acquired as a part of a larger purchase, and that show continues to be successful to this day, in partnership with the Colorado Snowmobile Association.  

As of the time of this post (summer 2018), Snow Goer is 52 years and 261 issues old. 

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