If you think about it, it makes sense that the history of sledding begins in North America and the aboriginal tribes of Canada. Their surroundings were covered by snow for months at a time, so they needed to find a way to transport heavy loads over long distances. The Cree, Innu, Anishinabe (or Chippewa) used wooden toboggans. The typical tomboggans were made of two or three thin hardwood boards that curved up at the front. The toboggan would either be pulled by humans or dogs.
Around 1800, a variation of the toboggan appeared to carry humans, specifically fur traders and this was called a cariole. This version had enclosed sides, a back and partially covered top.
Snow sleds came about for a specific type of snow transport. Long and narrow runners where added which reduced friction and allowed for heavier loads. One version is called the komitik which was shaped like a ladder with parallel runners attached.
In the late 19th century, the Swiss invented the bobsled. Many new and updated versions have happened along the way and now, most sleds are primarily used for recreational fun.
The annual 1,100 mile Iditarod race held in Alaska reminds us of the challenges of primitive winter transport. This race features a trek from Anchorage to Nome, each team consisting of a musher and 12-16 dogs.

January 21, 2010 9:30 pm Published by