There seem to have been two paths to the invention and development of the modern snowmobile. Carl Eliason has to be listed as inventor of the snowmobile, since his patent is 30 years earlier than the other contender for that honor, Joseph Armand Bombardier. Carl Eliason of Sayner Wisconsin built what is basically a motorized toboggan in 1924, which was patented in 1927.
The other path to development started when Joseph Armand Bomdardier of Valcourt Quebec built his first snow machine.
In 1922, when he was only 15, his father gave him an old Model-T Ford. Bombardier removed the motor and attached it to the framework of a typical four-passenger sleigh which was the usual mode of transportation for French-Canadian families during Quebec’s severe winters. He installed a huge wooden airplane propeller on the drive shaft behind the transmission. Then, using four sleigh runners to glide across the snow, he drove this “strange mechanical animal” through the main street of his hometown village.
By 1935 Bombardier had designed and built a rubber-cushioned, sprocket wheel-track system that made possible full-scale production of multi passenger snow vehicles. By 1937 he had introduced his principle of steering by skis in front of a tracked drive. On June 29, 1937, he was granted his first patent. Success was inevitable and immediate. Today there are almost three million snowmobiles registered worldwide. So, thank you Joseph-Armand Bombardier!