Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum – I love these stories where sharing a passion is just as important as the passion itself. The Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum is no exception. What was once a simple idea has now turned into one the biggest collection of snowmobile sleds in the mid-west! And it’s not surprising considering Michigan’s love affair with all things snow mobile related.
In this episode, Charlie shares with us:
- The history behind the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum
- What it takes to run and manage history
- What it means to him to share his passion with other enthusiasts.
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Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum Website
Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum Facebook Page
W11660 US 2
Naubinway, MI 49762
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: I did all that good stuff, but snowmobiling was my thing. And going to different snowmobile shows throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin, downstate. I belonged to the Antique Snowmobile Club of America.
I could see that it was growing. The vintage and antique hobby was growing. And I could see the, that it would work in my own little head that it would work. We had lots of support though
Cliff Duvernois: So what makes Michigan a great state? I’m glad you asked.
My name is Cliff Duvernois and I’m on a quest to answer that exact question. After 20 years, I’ve returned to my native Michigan, and I’m looking to reconnect with my home state. I’m talking to the people who are behind Michigan’s great businesses and top destinations, the same people who work hard every day to make our lives a little bit brighter.
And you Michigander are coming along for the ride.
This is the Call of Leadership podcast.
Hello everyone and welcome back to another episode of the Call of Leadership Podcast. So if you’re wandering around 75 and you just happen to be crossing the Mackinaw Bridge, if you take us two West at some point in time, you’re gonna hit.
What I think is probably one of the little treasures of Michigan, and that would be the snowmobile museum. That’s where we are today for our interview, and we got with us, the owner of the museum, Charlie Valier. Charlie, how are you?
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: I’m pretty good. I, I’m not the owner. I’m the guy that runs it. We formed a nonprofit corporation, so it’s nonprofit that owns it. We’re the ones that run it.
Cliff Duvernois: Okay.
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: That better
Cliff Duvernois: Okay. Learn something new every day. That’s cool. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about where you’re from and where you grew up.
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: Okay. I’m, uh, from Engadine. Okay. I live six miles north of Engadine in a farming and country. Matter of fact I live right now one mile from where I grew up. I went to school in Engadine. I did my two years, I got drafted in 69, did my two years, and I tried living in Saginaw and that just didn’t work.
I wasn’t a city boy my whole life, I’m living now one mile from where I grew up and love it. Don’t plan on moving.
Cliff Duvernois: Now, when was the museum founded?
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: Okay. Uh, we founded, our first opening day was July 4th, 2007.
And it took us so six months prior to that to get the building that we started in, renovated in, get snowmobiles in it. 2007,
Cliff Duvernois: so now the question I have to ask is why start a snowmobile museum in the first place?
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: well, Naubinway has been doing a snowmobile show for 31 years now and 15 years ago. So we had been doing a show for 15 years, something like that. And Naubinway was known for the snowmobile show that we were putting on. And the guys were all getting older and saying, It’s 10 degrees outside. The wind’s blowing five mile an hour.
We should have a museum, a building we could be in instead of out here in the cold. Nobody raised their hand to do that. Three years later A real estate lady in town, she thought we should try that again. She had found some property to rent. So we held a meeting. And same thing. Nobody to raise their hand, nobody to raise their hand.
Let’s do it. Let’s do it. So my wife and I, we raised our hand, um,
Cliff Duvernois: Take your time.
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: Yeah.
Cliff Duvernois: Yeah.
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: so we decided that we would share this and with help from a whole lot of other people in the community the real estate lady Lynn she had this property we could rent and the community supported it and the snowmobile community also. And we painted and cleaned and remodeled and Got the doors open October 7th at our new building.
We weren’t open only four or five days a week, and only three, four or five hours a day, whatever it was, right? We were volunteer staff. We could see we started with 60 snowmobiles. Snowmobiles weren’t the problem. We had lots of snowmobiles. It was just space to put ’em in, right? So that. First six and a half years at the, the old laundry mat we had remodeled, we had finally was able to squeeze, build some shelving over the years and we were able to get 80 SLDS in there.
Could see that it was working with the volunteer staff and it was two blocks off us. Two the main drag through the up could see that was gonna work. Everybody said we had to get out on the, on the highway. You gotta get out on the highway. You gotta get out on the highway.
Cliff Duvernois: because at that time where you were, you were a couple blocks off
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: Yes, we were two blocks and we were getting, you know, you’re gonna get your snowmobile to go two
blocks off the, the diehard, you’ll get to come two blocks off the highway. But we wanted to get other people that, people that don’t want to get off, they’ve scared they were gonna get lost in Nawa. If they got two blocks off the highway, then you can’t get lost in Noy.
But if you get lost in more, you probably shouldn’t be
driving. Um, so anyway, that was working. We bought property on us two, and then everybody saw you’ll double your business, you’ll double your business, but nobody would go to the bank and sign their name saying, We doubled our business.
So finally we went to the bank and signed the note saying we wanted to borrow some money and borrowed some money and put up this 10,000.
Well, at that time it was 7,500 square foot building, and then a few years later we added. And now it’s a 10,000 square foot building, and our original plan was 10,000 foot, but to keep the cost down, we backed off a little bit and then we added on three years later.
Cliff Duvernois: Certainly. So let’s go back. So you said that the museum was started back in 2007? Yes. Now, were you already retired
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: you? No, I wasn’t retired yet. I didn’t retire for a few years
Cliff Duvernois: Okay. And so you and your wife raised your hands and said, We’re crazy enough to do this. Right? You start pushing forward.
I, I gotta ask the question, what, what made you think that you could pull all this together?
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: I don’t know. Uh, I mean, I’m a snow. I, I, uh, the only hop I have now is snowmobiling. I used to fish, I used to hunt. I did all that good stuff, but snowmobiling was my thing. And going to different snowmobile shows throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin, I. Belong downstate. I belonged to the Antique Snowmobile Club of America.
I could see that it was growing. This, the vintage and antique hobby was growing. And I could see the, that it would work in my own little head that it would work. We had lots of support though people agreed with me. And my wife was retired. She from the school in Engadine, so she was there. And then of course I retired later, but, Why?
I guess I could just see the, See that would work.
Cliff Duvernois: Great. You get the museum, you get it launched. You get it out there. You made a comment that it wasn’t a problem getting sleds So let’s talk a little bit about the history of the sleds that are coming through your door. I mean, is it, What kind of collection do you have? How extensive is your collection
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: Here now at the museum, we’ve got 185 sleds and we’re about the history of snowmobiling. Me, I’m a collect, I’ve been a collector since I got outta the army, and
Cliff Duvernois: snow machines? You’ve been a collector.
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: What’s that? A snowmobile. Oh yes.
Cliff Duvernois: collector.
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: the only thing I’ve been collecting.
Cliff Duvernois: Is there
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: else to talk about? No. No. We’re
here postcards or basketball or baseball card? No. Snowmobile. You’re a collector. You’re a snowmobile collector. Anyway.
that’s I’ve collected since when I got outta the Army in 71, I talked my dad into being a Viking dealer. A Vikings snowmobile made in Twin Valley, Started in national Wisconsin, ended up in Twin Valley.
So I would been into snowmobiles. I would quit hunting. I, I would deer hunt. I loved deer hunting. When I went to work for the dnr, I had to quit hunting cuz they didn’t like the way I hunted.
Cliff Duvernois: Um,
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: questions.
I just set out in the deer blind and we’d have three inches of snow in the morning, and I’m sitting there waiting for this big buck to walk by me, and I’m, Man, I could be home playing with this old sl.
I could be home getting this sled running. Or
why am I setting here watching the, And I love the woods. I love taking
apples out to the deer. But the other part about it is when I was deer hunting, I had to buy a. When I hunt old snow sleds, I don’t have to buy a license. I just hunt old snow sleds and I can do it year round.
Yeah. So that’s, and I was into the oddball sleds, the, the weird stuff. That’s what I was into and that’s where the museum really comes to life is we have the oddball sleds and here the one of a kind homemade stuff, one of two, one of. One of three. Alice Chalmers here at the museum. Away we go, made in Triar.
There’s only five of those built. We have one of those here. We have an Anderson that was made up by manique, one of five that’s here at the museum. So we got that oddball stuff that you’re not gonna see anywhere else. So we have a, a Honda got into snowmobiles in 1973, they made 200 prototype. They were recalled.
They didn’t like him. This guy was hurt on one. They recalled him and crushed him. But there was four left. Four we know left and we have one here.
So we’re kind of proud of that. So that’s, We have some different sleds here. Yeah, we’ve got the Polaris and Arty cats and all the main brand stuff too. But we got some weird looking stuff.
A timber wolf made in Sue Michigan, they only made eight sleds. We have a timber wolf. . There’s a lot of stuff like that that, that we have that’s unique.
Cliff Duvernois: Now what really surprised me when you were taking me on a tour around the floor and showing me the different machine. Was the snow machines that JC Penney sold in their catalog. Montgomery Ward, right? Everybody knows
them as Sears. I was completely shocked cause I remember as a kid, you know, getting those JC Penney catalogs around Christmas time and I was in those things like crazy.
Never saw a photo of a snow machine. So it’s kind of trip that they got into the snowmobile business.
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: And we have a Sears catalog back there. I didn’t show you it, but we have the Sears catalog with the snow SL in it. Hers was another one. Okay. The catalog store. Hers yeah, everybody, and we have, we have all that stuff here. Sears was the more popular one. They Started off, which Sears was made by Scorpion painted a different color.
And then Omc also made him for Sears, uh, Johnson, Evan Road, omc. They also made him for Sears. So Sears was the more popular
Cliff Duvernois: Certainly, and it seems like if we, if we take a trip back through time through your museum, the, a lot of the older machines that are in there to me kind of look almost borderline experimental, like something you would make in your backyard, but then all of a sudden it became very commercialized. Like all of a sudden like you said before, like everybody just jumped on the bandwagon.
Why do you think that snowmobiling just became so popular so quick that everybody had to have a snow machine?
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: That was in the, um, late fifties, early sixties when everybody got into it. And, you know, I’m not sure why it was something new. You know, the car people come in here and say the same thing that well, when the cars were first started, there was all different kinds of cars being manufactured also. And now we’re down to a few.
Same thing with snowmobile. Everybody jumped on the bandwagon and was going to get rich or make their version. And now we’re down to four. Like, I’m not sure it was something new. So people wanted to try something new. The sport, it’s the outdoor recreation in the wintertime. Something to do in the wintertime, right?
But back in the late sixties, early seventies, it was a family outing. Everybody on a Saturday or small Saturday you worked. Sunday you played. So you would take your hot dogs out in the woods and ride your snow sled and start a fire. And it was more family orientated. They didn’t have the trail system like we have today.
Now it’s, we have an awesome trail system here in the up. Um, so. The new modern sleds, of course, are way better better ride, better everything.
Cliff Duvernois: Yes. Yeah. Like the Cadillac version almost.
Yeah. Now, with regards to a lot of the snowmobiles that you’ve got out there, you were telling me that there’s actually a lot of ’em that are in working condition.
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: Yes. Oh, um, we do a ride, well this year will be our 31st year for our show. We do a ride every, a vintage ride every year. It’s always a third weekend in February. Last year we had 250 do our vintage ride, and the guys are really into the, that part of it now. It used to be shows and now show and a ride.
If you have a ride. That’s, that’s the thing to be doing now is right, every weekend you go somewhere to a ride the weekend? We do, Our show is present this weekend, so there’s four or five other shows just in Michigan going on at the same time where 31 years ago. We were the only ones doing it, or now in the last 15 years, there’s lots of different communities have jumped on that bandwagon and want to do something in their community.
So they have rides?
Cliff Duvernois: Nice
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: of them break down on their rides.
Cliff Duvernois: Yeah. I think any machine is, uh, is being prone to being, to breakdowns for a lot of the snowmobiles that are out there. I could imagine that probably. You are getting a lot of people year round here at the museum.
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: January, February are our better months because of the snowmobile. The, the trail literally is 10 feet from that window. 10 feet from front of our building is the trail. So we get definitely when we have a trail, good trail system, we get lots of people. Last year we, on a Saturday, we’d run a hundred or 105 through.
Trail was good in a day. Um, so January, February, best months summer months are good. 40, 45, 50 a day in the summer months. It’s a little slower right now. April’s a slow month too, but there’s still people stopping. Every day we get somebody or a few people, um, right.
Cliff Duvernois: now for, So when you took, when you left the first building that you were in, right, the laundromat that you, that you
renovated, you got this building here. Talk to us a little bit about did you ever think for your SEC self for a second, like, how are we gonna fill up the space? How are we gonna really use this space?
Did you have everything all planned out in the first place? How did that work?
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: rented? Yeah, we had it. Sleds weren’t a problem. We had getting a lot of calls. I’ve got this sled or grandpa, you should have this sled that belong to grandpa should be in here. And so sleds, the popularity of the vintage sport hobby is really growing. So sleds aren’t the problem. I’m a collector myself and there’s another guy in Ohio.
He’s a big time collector. Back then we were, we still are. So the, he and I have got a bunch of our collections in here, but then there’s a lot of other individuals. Put their sleds in here. Right now we have a waiting list. People want to bring sleds in. We have a garage out back that we swap sleds in and out of.
They’ll be in here for a couple years, then it goes out to the garage and sets in the garage covered up. Um, and then we’ll bring them back and forth. So we switch sleds around. Some will never leave. They’re, they belong in here. They’ll never leave, but, so yeah, sleds aren’t the problem. Space is, But 185 is enough to keep track of who owns it.
Uh, keeping them clean. It’s a chore in itself. Keeping track of 180 fives, no, we’re not gonna add on anymore. We’re done adding on.
Cliff Duvernois: You’ve had it cuz you, you were mentioning before that you were at 7,500 square foot. Now you’re at 10,000.
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: Right. That’s when we, um, Obama and Velur, Quebec donated 33 Sledge to us. So when they donated those 33 s. We had to have a place to put ’em. So our, we have a 10 person board and the 10 person a board agreed to add on. We had some snowmobile buddies that did, a friends of ours that bled the museum. They did this thousand dollars challenge.
And so with that thousand dollars challenge, that’s got us quite a few bucks that we were able to, um, add on. We’ve got a grant to help add on. But bomber chose this museum to give 30. Unique sleds to we’re, uh, patting ourself on the back on that one that they chose this, they chose the top of the lake snowmobile museum to give 33 sleds to Very cool.
Cliff Duvernois: It is. And now with regards to this was something that when you and I were talking on the phone, something that you mentioned, and that is that this is the largest mobile.
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: Yes. And we, we hate to brag. We’re not bragging by that in any means. But as far as number of sleds we have the most, there’s the two museums in Wisconsin, St. Jermaine and Eagle River. They’re more Hall of Fame museums. They’re about the race stuff, More about the race stuff than we are. We’re not in competition with one another.
We get along great with those guys. We go, they put outings on and we go there. There’s another one in Hopedale, Illinois. He’s got like 150 sleds. Beautiful building. He remodeled and hope, and we’re friends with those people. They the Willis’s, they’ve been coming to our show for years. There’s another one in Uh, New Hampshire Lancaster, New Hampshire.
There’s another museum there. Uh, there’s one in Morocco, Indiana. And there’s other collectors like myself, and there’s a bunch of collectors like myself that have their own private collections at home. Matter of fact, there’s one here, 20 miles up the road from here, private collectors. He’s got an awesome collection.
I know he’s got 25, 30 sleds or 35, 40, whatever he is, got beautiful collection his own. Display. I’ve got another 150 sleds at home myself. The other guy from Ohio’s got a bunch of his sleds in here. He’s got a bunch more at home. There’s a lot of collectors like, like, us that have got 30 sleds or whatever.
So it’s a fast growing hobby.
Cliff Duvernois: apparently so. Yeah. Now for these, for the, for the people that have the private collections at their home, is it literally just for you? Do you let the, the public in there? How does
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: work?
well. Um, the collectors, like they got through here 20 miles. He’s well known in the vintage antique snowmobile world. If you’re going by his place, he’ll definitely show it to you. But Joe Blow off the street has no idea where he is at. But the collectors know of course, yes. They will show there’s another guy down on Turner.
He’s a big time collector. He’s into race stuff. He was a racer himself and he more than welcome show other stone billers, what he has. And every now and then a person will do an open house like Steve does. He’ll have an open house to people to come look at us. There’s a couple guys in Wisconsin, same way.
They have their other collections. There’s guys that collect oddball sleds like me, and then there’s guys that collect strictly race sleds. Then there’s guys. That collect drag sleds, the high dollar end stuff. Yeah, there’s a bunch of guys out there like me. I’m not the only one.
Cliff Duvernois: That’s great. So you say you have 185 sleds
underneath your roof. If a couple people were gonna come here and look cuz and I’m asking this question. Because a lot of times, especially if I go to museums or I’m looking at collections, I could almost go into overload. There’s almost too much for me to see.
And while I appreciate the entire collection, after a while things start to look the same. So if, if somebody were to come here to your museum, what would be a couple of the key snow machines that you would say? These are the ones that I think you should take a look at.
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: It all depends what the person, if he wants to see race stuff. We have some race stuff, some that won the Sue y 500. We. There’s a group of guys, the older guys, they want see the old iron, the rear engine stuff, the real old stuff. But then there’s those 40 year old guys, 50 year old guys that want to see that 1990 txl or a race SL or sporty sled.
Like in cars, it’d be like a Camaro, where Firebird, there’s that group of guys wanna see that Camaro where Firebird, same thing in snowmobiles. Then there’s the other guy that wants to see the one of a kind stuff or Or the rear engine stuff. The work stuff. So it’s a, it’s a mixture. Then there’s the engineer, the guy that’s never been on a snowmobile, but he, he’s an engineer type guy.
He wants to see how it works and what makes it go. And so it’s a variety of people and we get people to come in and they’ll spend 20 minutes and on their way out they’ll say something to ’em. He say, Well, I didn’t see the Harley Davis. Well, let’s go show you Harley Davidson. Right around the corner is Harley Davidson.
He went through 20 minutes in and out. He went through so ba fast. He didn’t see half the sleds, half the sleds that we have, right? So we get that comment all the time. I didn’t see this letter, that sled, Well, matter of fact, it happened again this morning. A guy didn’t see a sled that I, he said You didn’t see this one?
Well, I can back and show it to you. Okay? It’s right there. And then we get the guy that spend. Two hours or three hours here, man, my head is spinning. I, I’ve taken in way too much with all the, the clothing, the signs, the oil cans, there’s all the other stuff, literature that’s on the walls and things.
Not just the snowmobiles and it’s the library. You know, we have a, a library with any kind of snowmobile material in it you want. So yeah, we get that guy that I’m on overload. I gotta come back my head.
Cliff Duvernois: Yeah. Yeah. That was definitely me going through there and, and that happens quite often as I start to get lost in the different sleds. Cuz you do really a good job of having a little bit of the story for each sled.
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: Let me tell you that part
Cliff Duvernois: do
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: um, remember I graduated from Engadine. I’m not a, I wasn’t the a student either. We worked with Tom Farcus from the Shipwreck Museum. When we started the museum, or in the talking stages, one of our board members knew Tom FarWest and knew that he had started the Shipwreck Museum back in 84, 85.
So this person contacted him and he came down and met with our people. I worked for the DNR and we would use the DNR con conference room at in the evening. Yeah, probably lose my job today, but,
Cliff Duvernois: Uh,
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: I worked for the DNR and we had the conference room that was a place to meet. So Tom Far was come down and given us pointers and stuff.
And it’s one thing he said that you have to have people won’t read a book, but they’ll, the, he called the artifacts that put no more than 70 words on a description of both the snowed. He always kept calling on artifacts. So 70 words are less about the 1969 scorpion or whatever, right where it was made, when.
When it was made. And so we got that from Tom. He was, uh, we picked his brain quite a bit. Very, he was helpful for us to get started. I wasn’t, like I said, I graduated from Edine, but I wasn’t really into to museums. But Tom helped us a bunch.
Cliff Duvernois: No, and it’s, what it is, is because this is a, a recurring theme that I’ve heard today, you talk about, so for instance, I, and I don’t know if it was Tom, but somebody was like, You need to add a gift.
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: Mm-hmm.
Cliff Duvernois: Because that helps pay the bills. We’re sitting in a conference room right now that you rent out to local groups that are in the area because it helps to pay the bills.
It helps keep the door
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: Yes.
Cliff Duvernois: can enjoy the museum.
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: Right. And then Tom also, of course, he did the Shipwreck Museum in Paradise. So we wanted to do a few displays, um, like here locally. Noway is known for the commercial fishing village. It still is today, but back in the fifties and sixties they get 200 pounds of fish, two miles on Lake Michigan.
They had to have a way to get ’em off the ice. So when the snowmobile came, the workhorse of the snowmobile came along. They would use that and they still use snowmobiles today, but to use a new modern sled. So we wanted to do some kind of diorama of some fake ice. A box of fish nets with one of these old rear engine sleds setting on the ice to make it look real.
And Tom says, Oh, yep, that would be good, but you gotta put a little drama into it. What do you mean people like this is coming from Tom? People like drama. You’ve gotta have that fake. You gotta have the sled setting on the ice, but you gotta have the sleighs pulling, breaking through the ice. He, uh, we never, you know, that’s still in the work.
We haven’t made it yet, but that was another thing we, I still remember from Tom, that you gotta have some drama into it. The, the sled breaking through the ice and the fishermen just getting off on the ice and time.
Cliff Duvernois: No, it, it’s, they do that for every television show that’s out there. You know, you gotta interject that drama
cuz that’s what makes us watch us and want to tune in for next week. So I totally get that. There’s one machine that I picked out here. I was actually kind of spy going through here because I wanted to talk about it.
For me, it’s absolutely fascinating when you talk about how there’s something here for everybody. Uh, you know, when I came in here, I was thinking back to my own childhood. My dad had two Yamaha sleds and going through there, I saw some machines ahead, like the similar body style, but I’m an aviation guy through and through.
And when I saw that you had a sled with a, uh, with a World War ii,
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: Yes.
Cliff Duvernois: airplane, you know, piston engine, Yeah. Uh, looked like it was a, um, circular.
Piston engine with a prop.
Rotary engine. Thank you. With a, uh, and it was done in a pusher prop
I, That air Sleds.
that completely caught my eye.
Talk just a little bit about airsleds
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: Well, it’s an airplane. Motor,
And it’s a sled, so it’s
sled. Matter of fact, they were I didn’t show you the picture on the wall. Maybe you saw it in the early 19 hundreds, like 1905 in Sags was the Wing Arrow company. It was a wing, arrow, sled. And they, the guys that remember sitting us back in the early 19, it was the old Ford Garage, of course, I don’t remember the old Ford Garage in, in 1905, but he manufacture was called a Wing Arrow sled.
And we did a bunch of research on this. We actually went to the cemetery and found that the Wing family was there. But there’s a few pictures on the wall, paintings on the wall. Chester Wing, great-grandson or whatever did. And so we contacted the great-grandson and he’s in his eighties now, but he was really cool about the history behind the Wing aero sled and SIGs.
During a depression, they would use these wing, any air sled, but Wing made them to go out any. I don’t know why, but coyotes mate on the ice and all the islands around, Sagna, Cedarville all over they would chase the coyotes with these wing arrow sleds, right? And there was a bounty on ’em. State of Michigan would pay you I $35 or whatever it was for a coyote.
And during the depression, that was a lot of money. And some of the, and I will show you those two big paintings we have shows The Wing arrow SL with a.
So yeah, The Wing and Wing wasn’t the only one. There was a lot of homemade stuff being made. My uncle made one from Detour. He made a homemade air sled.
There was a lot of homemade air sleds being made. Scorpion, which was called Trailer Sled, actually manufactured 10 or 15. They were called Scorpion Trail Sled. Air Sleds is more commercial looking. The one we have here is little crude. That’s another group of people that still do it today. They get together and have these air sleds.
Cliff Duvernois: This is why I love history because there’s so much to it. Just beyond, you know, this company manufactured this or this manufactured that. I mean, there is a reason behind these sleds, the state of Michigan, putting a bounty
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: Yeah.
Cliff Duvernois: on the, on the coyotes out there and yeah, that’s just incredible. I love that.
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: Yes. Uh, and Wing would actually, um, you could buy a kit from, from the Wing garage or you could buy the Complete Air Sled already made, right? But yeah, that some history we had no idea was out there.
Cliff Duvernois: That’s awesome. So, Charlie, if anybody’s listening to this podcast and they wanna learn more about the museum, maybe even stop by, what are some ways that they could connect with you, either, you know, online or stop by? Okay.
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: Our, our website is pretty easy. Snowmobile museum.com?
Yes. That’s cool. Stonewall museum.com. You can tell we were out in front
on that one. Yep. So snowmobile museum.com. We do a Facebook page. We use Facebook to Advantage. We don’t get into all the other BS on Facebook, but it’s, uh, we have quite a following on our Facebook page.
We started doing the building the new building in 2013. Marilyn would we just started Facebook. Then she would put something on Facebook every day picture of this or picture of that. And our following really
off. And then of course we kept an up. Um, we got like 10,000, whatever they’re called on
Facebook. Followers, followers, I guess.
Cliff Duvernois: on. I’m one of them, by the way.
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: Cool. So anyway, our Facebook page or snowmobile museum.com or just stop by. We’re 42 miles west of the Mackinaw Bridge right on us two on the north side of the road. We have a sinus says snowmobile museum. That lights up in the night. Can’t miss us on the
side of the
road. Na always a small little place. Oh, and it’s the northern most point of Lake Michigan. That’s why we’re called the top of the lakes snowmobile. Cuz we’re literally at the top of Lake Michigan. And the community association here, who uses this room no charge of course. The community association is like a Chamber of Congress, but we called it now the Community’s Association.
They just did last year a monument photo op of the northernmost point. So all at our marina here in. We put this map up, it’s the outline of Michigan. It’s like 10 or 12 feet tall, made out of stainless steel, and it says on it northern most point of Lake, Michigan with a little star. Right? At no way.
It’s another, we just, I worked on that
also, but uh, it was a five year long project and we finally got it done. It’s a
Cliff Duvernois: and I imagine it’s absolutely beautiful.
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: Of course it’s made outta stainless steel.
Cliff Duvernois: That awesome for our audience. We’ll have all those links in the show notes down below. Charlie, it’s been awesome hanging out with you today and checking out to
Charlie Vallier, Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum: been museum
and thank you very much
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