After a successful fox hunt, inventor Donald Bergstrom of Eagle Bend, Minn. poses aside one of his recent air-sled creations. Don's innovative machines opened-up winter in an entirely new way and were the direct forerunners of the Trail-A-Sled and eventually the Scorpion snowmobile. Note - hunting of this type was quite common and completely legal during this era. Bergstrom family photo.
Crosby area businessmen Paul Hesch (Plymouth and DeSoto dealer) and Jack Zontelli (mining owner & operator) pose alongside a Donald Bergstrom designed air-sled manufactured in Eagle Bend, Minn (Jack Zontelli seated). Private photo.
The Banks-Maxwell Propeller Company features a Bergstrom air-sled for it's 1957 catalog. This photo's caption indicates, "Mr. Donald Bergstrom, Eagle Bend, Minn., builds this metal sleigh using Continental A-65 engines. The number he sells each year indicates the design is quite successful." Banks-Maxwell photo.
Game Warden Jerry Liemandt (seated) and special deputy Merrill Love prepare for their appointed rounds aboard a $1,200 air-sled recently purchased from inventor Donald Bergstrom. Sponsored largely by the Greater Lake Minnetonka Council, the air-sled reportedly has dramatically improved law enforcement's ability to patrol the sprawling lake west of Minneapolis, Minn. - Minneapolis Sunday Tribune titled "Ice Patrol Enforces Law on Minnetonka."
Dick Harrison's second air-sled prototype, constructed from a Republic Seabee fuselage. Private photo.
Dick & Glen's combined inventory is displayed at The Spot Drive In, Crosby, Minn. Private photo.
Glen Gutzman and Ed Marolt display their aluminum-based air-sled after moving manufacturing from Eagle Bend, Minn. to Crosby-Ironton, Minn. Private photo - origin unknown.
Trail-A-Sled's first Crosby-Ironton based assembly building, located in the city's Lakeview district. Nearly fifty years later, this rugged building remains. Scorpion marketing photo.
The Banks-Maxwell Propeller Company features a Gutzman air-sled for it's 1959 catalog. This photo's caption indicates, "This snowplane is made by Trail-A-Sled Mfg. Co., Crosby, Minnesota. They are covered with sheet aluminum and are supplied with engines of 65 to 100 H.P." Banks-Maxwell photo.
Perfecting the mold for the new firm's fiberglass air-sled, (L to R) Dick Harrison, Glen Gutzman, Ed Marolt. Private photo - unknown origin.
In the alley near his home in northeast Crosby, Dick Harrison (on left) tinkers with his new air-boat. Private photo.
The new Trail-A-Sled fiberglass air-sled receives a final test run for the media. Location: Serpent Lake, Crosby, Minn. Private photo.
Emerging from the former Larson Brothers Lakeview-area garage, Glen Gutzman (L) and Dick Harrison (R) proudly pose for a photo by local media alongside a fiberglass air-sled Harrison designed. This stylish job featured comfortable seating for four, expansive windows, defroster, 12 volt electrical system and an internal heater. Crosby-Ironton Courier.
One of Trail-A-Sled's first professional marketing pieces. Photos taken at the Jack and Clara Zontelli residence, just east of Crosby. Company brochure. Courtesy: SnowmobileHistory.com.
With summer approaching, Trail-A-Sled, Inc. founders test drive their latest pontoon boat design on Crosby's Serpent Lake. The neat design provided room for ten persons and was easily transported (weighing only 500 pounds). The invention soon won praise for durability and ride. From left: Glen Gutzman, Dick Harrison, Sub Harrison. Crosby-Ironton Courier.
Highlighting the firm's early involvement in marine products this large 4' x 8' sign is displayed outside the firm's rented main street facility. Private photo.
The firm's second (and final) air-sled design is displayed along with a prototype tracked snowmobile (note the fiberglass skis and steering wheel). Photo location: Serpent Lake, Crosby, Minn. Marketing photo - origin unknown.
Polaris Industries brochure for a fiberglass air-sled, manufactured by Trail-A-Sled, Inc. Twenty five such machines were sold by Polaris. Polaris brochure.
The ill-fated Comet Sno-Traveler, Polaris' first high-volume attempt to produce a forward-mounted snowmobile (designed to better compete with the Arctic Cat Model 100). A Polaris dealer at the time, Trail-A-Sled, Inc. produced a number of component parts for the Comet in the summer of 1963 and it's was Polaris' large demand for such that convinced Trail-A-Sled's founders to enter the tracked snowmobile business for themselves. Later, unrelated design and reliability issues would doom the Comet (nearly ruining all of Polaris in the process) and helped create an opening for Trail-A-Sled's own revolutionary fiberglass snowmobile, the Scorpion. Polaris brochure.
Trail-A-Sled all-fiberglass inventory is briefly displayed for the media. Crosby-Ironton Courier.
Fully loaded with 17 rubber-tracked Scorpion snowmobiles, Charlie Booth prepares to begin the trip to Liverpool, NY with Trail-A-Sled, Inc.'s new GMC truck. Crosby-Ironton Courier.
Trail-A-Sled Scorpions are prepared for shipment. Crosby-Ironton Courier.
An early build for the upcoming model year (this photo was taken in the Summer of 1964), this early model Scorpion featured a revolutionary patented rubber track and an all-fiberglass body. Unlike many metal-based machines of it's era, this nimble little number was unusually quiet and stylish. This model was a major breakthrough for Trail-A-Sled, Inc. and positioned the firm as a true leader in the industry. Although shown here in black, the bulk of this year's build featured either turquoise of pale orange. Coincidental, this photo features the Crosby-Ironton Arena in the background, site of the firm's tragic fire in 1967. Mechanix Illustrated, February 1965.
Sears promotes their new Snowcruiser, manufactured by Trail-A-Sled, Inc. Popular Science, January 1966.
An extremely rare French-language copy of an early Sno-Ro brochure. Built by Trail-A-Sled, Inc., the Sno-Ro gave Trail-A-Sled an emerging presence in the coveted and Ski-Doo dominated Canadian market. French to English translation, "STOP - BUY - Salsbury Automatic Variable Pulley Clutch - Detachable Reservoir/Tank - Fixed Jet Tillottson Carburetor, Hirth Engine One Cyclinder, 2-Cycle Air-Cool Type, 250 cc (10.5 h.p.) or 300 cc (12.5 h.p.) - Back/Rear Support, Additional Accessories Available - Reinforced Fiberglass Chassis - Weight 220 Pounds (approximate) - Bumper and Additional Accessories Available - Laurentide Recreational Products, Inc." Courtesy David's Vintage Snowmobile Page and Germain Beausejour.
A trailer load of 66 new Scorpions is loaded aboard TAS' brand new GMC semi-trailer and readied for a trip to Syracuse New York. The firm now operates two such vehicles, one servicing the eastern states and the other the western. Crosby-Ironton Courier.
Trail-A-Sled, Inc. President Glen Gutzman (left) and John Pappas (right) both of Ironton's Myrin-James American Legion Post enjoy a few laughs on the firm's new Scorpion for 1966, featuring a new all steel chassis and buckskin bubble-nose hood. This beautiful machine will be given away at Legion festivities scheduled for December 31st, 1965. Crosby-Ironton Courier.
Stub Harrison makes good use of his Scorpions during a successful hunting trip. Private photo.
New model, featuring a steel tunnel. Marketing photo - origin unknown.
Set aside the Crosby Arena, Trail-A-Sled, Inc. president Glen Gutzman poses beside a large order of 1967 Scorpions already earmarked for an eastern dealer. Crosby-Ironton Courier.
A section of Trail-A-Sled, Inc.'s patent for the innovative continuous rubber track, the first of it's kind made in America. Although finalized in November of 1966, the patented design was first used in production machines in the fall of 1964. The firm's single most important innovation, the continuous rubber track was initially used to propel the nimble all-fiberglass Scorpion for 1965. Leveraging their innovation, Trail-A-Sled spun-off Rubber Drives, Inc. who manufactured this and similar tracks through 1971, not only for Scorpion but for a large number of other firms as well. Genuinely unique at the time, the durable rubber track gave the struggling firm an edge and was key to fueling the years of explosive growth that were soon to follow. United States Patent and Trademark Office.
David "Pappy" Burns and crew begin their Alaskan Epic.
Promotional photo featured in Trail-A-Sled, Inc. Christmas greetings. Trail-A-Sled sales representative Virgil Lueck keeps the horse at bay while Diane Wheat (sister of Bozeman distributor Denny Wheat) and Kim Wheat (daughter of Bozeman distributor Keith and Karen Wheat) look on. Shot in Bridger Canyon near Bozeman, Montana. Company marketing photo.
Featuring Eileen Harrison. Location: Crosby's Memorial Park. Company brochure.
An extremely rare flyer for the upcoming 1967 model year. Company brochure.
The founders are all smiles as Dick displays a new clutch he designed - (L to R) Glen Gutzman, Dick Harrison, Stub Harrison. Snow Goer Magazine.
The 1967 Sears Winter Sales Catalog features a re-branded Scorpion by Trail-A-Sled, Inc. See Transcripts for a full description. Courtesy Terry Splettstoeszer
1967: Brainerd Marine promotes their Sno-Craft Pow-R-Sled machine, manufactured by Trail-A-Sled, Inc. Brainerd Marine was one of many firms who contracted with Trail-A-Sled for machines, parts and material. This machine featured a JLO while the light blue Pow-R-Sled of 1966 carried a Hirth (also manufactured by Trail-A-Sled, Inc.). Brainerd Marine brochure. Courtesy: Les Pinz.
Trail-A-Sled's new wide-track model for 1968 gets a capacity test at Crosby's public beach, adjacent to the firm's Arena assembly building. Enjoying the ride are (from left): Cathy Petrich, Virginia Milberry, Marilyn Ridlon, Beverly Hamilton and Mary Petrich. Crosby-Ironton Courier.
Minneapolis Star-Tribune newspaper ad features the Alaskan epic. Star-Tribune photo.
The charred hulk of a Scorpion snowmobile lies on the ruined assembly line as Trail-A-Sled, Inc. employees attempt to salvage parts and material from the Arena assembly area. Extreme heat destroyed nearly everything located within the formerly bustling manufacturing facility. Having escaped the flames, Crosby's brick and mortar Armory remains in the rear. Pictured: Peter Krmpotich, Tony Domiano, Paul Jedlicka. Minneapolis Tribune.
Dick and Stub Harrison pause while the first post-fire Scorpion rolls-off the temporary assembly line. Origin unknown.
Scorpion is covered in an early issue of Snow Goer magazine, featuring Trail-A-Sled sales representative Virgil Lueck (L) and public relations specialist Loren Miller, W. Oates Miller & Associates (R). Shot near Bozeman, MT.