Snow Goer magazine was launched as the first national snowmobile magazine 50 years ago. To celebrate, Snow Goer is taking readers on a volume-by-volume walk through the history of snowmobiling, as captured on the magazine’s pages. Below is the opening to the 1960s section, with a review of the 1966-67 publishing season. Other years will be also be published — use SG@50 in the search bar on the website to find them. Here’s a link to the opening section.
The 1960s In Snow Goer
From the Vietnam War in Southeast Asia to the civil rights movement across the United States, plus rallies and protests for those affairs that defined the era, the 1960s was a tumultuous time period marked by political unrest and free love.
The decade also saw snowmobiling transform from being a humble, rural pastime to one of the fastest growing forms of outdoor recreation that, at one point, was predicted to surpass boating in terms of popularity.
With the sport growing at such a tremendous rate, snowmobiling needed a national magazine to inform and entertain its enthusiasts, and to give snowmobile companies a way to reach those fanatics through advertisements. The Scholwins launched Snow Goer magazine in 1966.
Inside the front cover of the first issue of Snow Goer magazine was a pronouncement that the publisher created the publication “… to promote and increase the development of the snomobile for family and sporting enjoyment. Snow Goer is dedicated to the world of snomobiling!”
Topics in the premier issue included deer hunting with a snowmobile, specifications about sleds from Ski-Daddler, Rupp, Polaris, Scorpion, Larson, Arctic Cat, Ski-Doo and Bolens, descriptions about “How It Feels” (as the department was called) to compete in a cross-country race and the fun and practicality of Christmas caroling with a snowmobile and toboggan. Plus a how-to article on page 46 explained how to modify a tilt-bed boat trailer for snowmobile use.
Subsequent first-year issues of Snow Goer included letters from readers who congratulated the publishers for launching the magazine. Machine tests that first year included the Arctic Cat Panther, Larson Hawk and Polaris Colt and Mustang, with the evaluations taking place in Marquette, Michigan. About the 1966 Panther, which had an aluminum chassis and flip-tip hood, editors awarded four stars for its stability and exclusive slide rail rear suspension. “We can’t say enough about the adjustable rear suspension system … and the rest of the machine is put together like it was meant to stay together. Let’s give the Big Dipper on this one.”
As an indication of how prone to break down early snowmobiles were, the list of problems the test team encountered with the sleds included: fouled spark plugs, a gas tank that “leaked like a sieve,” one blown head gasket, bent skis, skinned knuckles from a misplaced recoil starter, a frayed throttle cable and brake cable keepers that came off, hard starting, insufficient braking, a throttle that stayed wide open after a driver was thrown off “as well as other various technical difficulties that cropped up.” Whew! That sounds like a rough couple of days for those pioneering Snow Goer editors.
Topics for the popular Snow Goer Susie column included the first Eagle River Snowmobile Derby, racing and the importance of safe and responsible snowmobiling.