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Discover the birthplace of the snowmobile in Sayner-Star Lake


  • Article
  • Attractions
  • Museums
  • Snowmobiling
  • Winter

Uncover northern Wisconsin's rich snowmobiling history in Sayner-Star Lake.

Discover the birthplace of the snowmobile in Sayner-Star Lake

Vilas County is rich in snowmobile history, and nowhere is that more evident than Sayner-Star Lake.

In fact, Sayner-Star Lake is known as the “birthplace of the snowmobile.” It’s true—a young man named Carl Eliason created a “motor toboggan” in a garage behind his general store in northern Wisconsin 1924. This 2.5-horsepower vehicle had many of the features now standard in snowmobiles and was an inspiration for the powerful modern-day machines you’ll see in Sayner-Star Lake every winter. Eliason patented his invention in 1927, and his original creation can be seen today at the Vilas Historical Museum in Sayner (look for Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox outside).

The Sayner-Star Lake Barnstormers Snowmobile Club plays an important part in the Northwoods’ snowmobile history, too. The club was the original creator of Vilas County’s snowmobile trail system and currently maintains the state’s oldest snowmobile trail, which runs through the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest. Today, the club grooms nearly 80 miles of trails in Sayner-Star Lake and the surrounding area. Learn more about the club here.

Don’t forget to download the free Map It Vilas County trails app—which will help you find and navigate the county’s snowmobile trails and silent-sports trails.

Learn more about snowmobiling and other activities and places to stay in Sayner-Star Lake here.