by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
The Sno-Flyers Snowmobile Club of rural Avon and Holdingford has been supporting and encouraging winter snow fun since about 1968. They have sponsored a vintage snowmobile run for 10 years, giving vintage sled owners a venue to exhibit their machines.
Sno-Flyers members groom trails from Albany to the Morrison County line, from Albany to St. Anna and then to their clubhouse, which is north of Avon on County Road 9 (just south of Holdingford) and from the clubhouse to the Rice bridge.
Club member Wayne Resseman has been part of the group since the early 1990s.
“I complained to a buddy about the trails not being marked well,” he said. “I was told to ‘get out here and help, then.’”
“We started the vintage snowmobile run in 2004 as a fundraiser, after some no-snow years,” said Resseman. “The proceeds helped pay for grooming, insurance and taxes.”
The group owns 40 acres between Avon and Holdingford near the Wobegon Trail, and includes a clubhouse the group built in the 1970s.
“The upstairs was added in the early 1980s,” Resseman said. “The club got it built; not many groups have something like this.”
Using materials donated by club members, there are three different kinds of rafters for the second floor, skillfully put together by volunteers. Each floor has a fireplace, with a kitchen and bar on the lower level.
“The brick for the fireplace upstairs came from a church in Holdingford that was torn down,” said charter member Jan Paggen.
“There is a view of Two Rivers River, and sometimes Two Rivers Lake,” Resseman said.
In the late 1990s, the club bought a trail groomer and drag. “That drag weighs about 4,000 pounds,” he said.
The first patent for a snow-vehicle using the now recognized format of rear track(s) and front skis was issued to Ray H. Muscott of Waters, Mich. in 1916. The first company in Minnesota to begin production on snowmobiles was Polaris in the late 1950s.
Resseman’s vintage sleds include a 1971 purple Dolphin, which he found through the Internet in Paynesville in 2004.
“The first sled my dad bought new was a 1971 Dolphin,” he said. “We were snowed in at school on a Friday when I was in seventh grade. Dad rode to Holdingford to pick up me and my brother Saturday morning, and took us home to west of St. Joseph. It was a nasty storm, driving through many drifts to get home. The other kids didn’t get home until Sunday.”
Resseman, who also repairs and restores snow machines for others, has five sleds. This includes a 1984 Polaris Indy Trail which has been highly modified.
“I put in a different motor and put new skids on it,” he said. “It’s put together to trail ride, with hand-warmers being the biggest thing. I don’t want to freeze my fingers.”
One winter day Resseman was snowmobiling with three friends in the Gull Lake area north of Brainerd. They stopped at a local restaurant.
“In walked two older gentlemen who sat and talked with us for the longest time,” Resseman said. “We didn’t know who they were and it didn’t matter. They were very down-to-earth.”
It wasn’t until three days later when he was telling someone about the experience that Ressemen realized who he had been talking with — Edgar Hetteen, Polaris founder and the man who was described by the Snowmobile Hall of Fame in St. Germain, Wis. as the father of the snowmobile.
Vintage enthusiast 17-year-old Mitchell Fruth of Avon rides in the vintage run with one of his 12 old snowmobiles.
“We go every year,” he said “It’s because of all the friends I have in it and meeting new people. We always have something to talk about with our sleds. Other people tell me I should sell all my old sleds and buy a new one, but an old one is one-of-a-kind. It’s a thrill when you start them up and ride with a bunch of other people who have old sleds.”
Fruth’s favorite sled is a 1971 Evinrude Norseman. “I like the way it sounds when it runs and the way it handles,” he said. “It’s always reliable.”
The Sno-Flyers clubhouse, open from the first week of January until the snow is gone, is manned by volunteers and is open to the public from noon – 10 p.m. Saturdays and from noon – 5 p.m. Sundays.
For more information, call (320) 363-8172.