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Skis and tracks from way, way back: Vintage snowmobiles in Pequot Lakes

Brush Pilots showcase hundreds of sleds at annual event

Nostalgia hits a peak in Minnesota when the raspy, two-stroke rattle and bluish exhaust fills the winter air.

That happens at dozens of locations around the state, including Pequot Lakes, where the Pequot Brush Pilots hold their annual Antique Snowmobile Rendezvous. Die-hard snowmobile enthusiasts, small-engine gurus and avid collectors straddle the trail outside the Pequot Chamber to showcase their timeless classics. The sound, smell and excitement cuts through the cold like a hot knife.

Nostalgia aside, these old machines — some more than 60 years old — had more practical uses in the past. With fewer paved roadways and snow plows, Minnesotans trusted their machines for necessary commuting. Furthermore, snowmobiles went hand-in-hand with ice fishing, logging, trapping and hauling materials around the northwoods. 

Vintage snowmobiles and other relics line the Paul Bunyan Trail in Pequot Lakes, Minn.

Locals reminisce about the affordability and abundance of snowmobiles in 60s’ and 70s’ Minnesota. A retired Nisswa powersports dealer described how everything has come full circle, from selling 250 snowmobiles in the early 1970s to seeing most of those sleds on display right back in their hometown.

Nowadays, vintage sleds appear in many bars, restaurants and powersports dealerships, in front yards, antique scrap heaps and friends’ workshops. They’re attached to billboards and roofs, hang from rafters; and one is even comically displayed 15 feet up in a tree in Nisswa. But in the absence of events like this people will rarely see such beautifully restored relics as the Ford Model A on tracks and skis, the fan-powered Polaris Air Sled, or the Ski Doo side snowmobile. The twisted tin coverings, burlap seats, missing paint and rust are simply a charming bonus on display.

This is just one of the many uniquely Minnesotan events we love in Pequot Lakes, Nisswa and other nearby small towns. So if you’re looking to make the move to our neck of the woods, check out our abundant buyer resources.