LOOKING BACK ON 50 YEARS OF THE IASC
Here are some interesting facts about the of the IASC and how snowmobiling came to be. In the winter of 1971/1972,there were approximately 1 ½ miles of snowmobile trails that were shared by 9 Illinois Clubs. These clubs included: Polar Pairs, Harmony, Top-o-State, Wauconda, Oak Park, Hotel Snow Bugs, Chicagoland Snowmobile Association, Woodstock and Evergreen Park. Membership at one time reached as high as 94 clubs, 3200 family members, 58 associate members and 54 business members. Illinois wasconsidered the 3rd largest snowmobile state association with 63,000 sleds registered in the state. Today, the total number of clubs has combined or cease to exist, bringing totals to 50 clubs, 1600 members, 51 business associates and 17 individual members. The registration of sled has also dwindled and of the original nine clubs, there is only one remaining charter member, Woodstock Snowmobile Club.
The original Snowmobile Association in 1972 was The Chicagoland Snowmobile Association. Their efforts provided the first snowmobile law in Illinois. The cost of passing the law was over $10,000 and forced the association to go bankrupt. The IASC was formed to take over where the CSA left off and gave us what we have today. Today there are approximately 2500 miles of trails maintained by the IASC clubs and members. All volunteered and organized. The State was divided into 9 regions around 1974. The regions were developed by dividing the State up according to the number of registered sleds, so each regions has an equal number of snowmobilers. By doing this, it made communication between snowmobile clubs easier and more available throughout the state. It also helped to share the workload of the association. The boundaries have changed several times to make it easier for clubs to attend meetings.
There have been presidents in the IASC. The first president for Earl Nelson in 1972. He was involved with getting the IASC up and running. The List of Presidents is as follows, Roy (1973), Red Seger (1974), Jim Sleep (1975-76), Ron Hambly (1977-78), Tom Gardner (1979-80), Chuck Ronchetti (1981), Elwin (Tiny) Sanders (19982-83), George Gore (1984-85), Eric Menssen (1986-87), James (7) Bond (1988-89), Marv Taylor (1990-91), Bill Schumann (1992-97) John Lyon (1998-2000), Mark Hazzard (2001-003), Steve Heffel (2004 – 06) Dan Long (2007-09), Sue Giese (2010 -12), Kirk Polhill ( 2013- 15), Brian Fradkin (2016– 17), Mason Long (2018 -2020), George Thompson (2021 – current).
The first four to six IASC meeting were held in Spring Grove at the Polar Pairs Clubhouse at the Rudolph Breezy Lawn Farm. After that, each month was a traveling meeting to different parts of the state. Most of the meetings during that time were held at the Golden Steer Restaurant in Aurora. Meetings are currently held in Rochelle. This location was determined to be centrally located in the State according to the membership. The first convention was held January 26,27,28 in 1973 at Hunters Country Club in Richmond, IL. Members from thirteen clubs were in attendance. The convention consisted of an annual meeting, election of officers, seminars, meals, a dance, a shopping tour for the ladies and a trail ride. The format has been nearly the same, except for the trail ride which is next to impossible in November. It has been the tradition of late, that each of the regions take turns in hosting the convention. This year things are different. The IASC is now trying a pilot program of hosting the event and sharing the load as well as holding everything on one day, trying to meet the needs and requests of the membership as much as possible.
The IASC Earl and Nayola Nelson Scholarship
Earl and Nayola Nelson Scholarship program was started in 1985. It was named in their honor as a tribute to their writing talents as well as their commitment to the IASC and The Illinois Snowmobiler Magazine that they started and were the first editors. It is open to all club members who have taken the safety class and are at least High School seniors and are enrolled or enrolling as a full time student in College. It is an Essay Scholarship with yearly themes to follow. It has grown from 1 Scholarship awarded in 1985, to 2 in 1996 and then 3 in 1999. Starting in 2010 another was added with a total of $3250 in Scholarships given out. The Scholarships are fully funded by the generosity of the IASC Convention attendees. This program has also changed throughout the years and now awards 2 scholarships for $3500 total to the winners. The IASC is very proud of this program as the youth of the sport is our future.
Interesting Facts about Snowmobiling in Illinois
Governor Dan Walker proclaimed January 13, 1975, as “Think of Snow Day” for the State of Illinois due to the Segers Snow Seekers club.
The I&M canal was developed to connect the Great Lakes to the Mississippi river and while instrumental in the settlement in Northern Illinois and was a major transportation corridor during the 1800’s, the purpose of the Canal changed with the times. Recreation is now the main use and the IASC worked side by side with the Friends of the I&M for a national recognition with President Reagan signing a the Illinois and Michigan National Heritage Corridor Act in 1984. Because of the IASC, the I&M Canal has home to 61 miles of groomed trails throughout the years. Region 7 (located in the eastern half of north-central Illinois) uses the I&M Canal as their major trail system. Running parallel to the Illinois River, it’s picturesque trail is a multi-use trail as well. It also has bragging rights to be the first region to use the STEF grant to purchase a groomer in 1984.
In Region 6, 12.85 miles of trails between Freeport, IL. and the Wisconsin State Line is due to the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad having a line routed through Freeport, thanks in part to John Addams. This branch of trail is the Jane Addams Trail. It is part of the Grand Illinois Trail system. In 2033, the Jane Addams Trail was awarded the Coalition of Recreational Trails Award for construction and design. Former Trail Advisor Greg Hodges accepted the award in Washington DC.
In Region 4, the Hennepin Canal (constructed between 1871 -1892 with first boat going through in 1907) was to reduce the distance from Chicago to Rock Island by 419 miles. The problem was the locks on both the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers were widened and the Canal became obsolete before its opening. By 1930s it was used primarily for recreational traffic. It is a 104.5 mile linear park which spans 5 counties. The entire canal is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Hennepin boasts the 91 miles on the tow path as the longest snowmobile trail in the state.
In 1975, the IASC introduced a bill that would establish a Safety Education Program in Illinois that would be managed by the IL Dept. of Conservation (now called the IDNR) but that bill failed. But an almost identical Bill introduced by the IDOC passed paving the way for our current program. We have continued to have a working relationship with the IDNR for our grant programs and Safety programs through out the state. Our Safety Program is made up of volunteer instructors that take the IDNR Safety Program and tests. Once passed, the Instructors can schedule classes to give the rider that best education of the rules of snowmobiling to ensure the best and safest ride possible. Our program is open to anyone 12 years and older interested in taking the 8 hour class to receive the Safety Certificate Card needed to drive a sled, on the public trails, if there is a responsible adult over the age of 18 riding along with them. This card has reciprocity to the other snow states and needed in many, up to the age of 26, to be able to ride their trails.
The Illinois Snowmobiler Magazine has had changes throughout the years. It was originally published through the summer of 1997 and edited by Earl and Nayola Nielson. It was then Published and edited by Paul Hertzberg from September1997 – Spring of 1982. Leisure Features Publications published the magazine from September of 1982 – March of 1984 with Tom Anderson was the editor. Waupaca Publishing Co. from September 1984 – March of 1998, PrintComm to over from September 1998 – March of 2009. Cathy Hanson was the editor. MSPN from Sept. 2009 – 2011 and Cathy Hanson was also the editor. From September of 2011 through today, the Illinois Snowmobiler Magazine has been published by KDR publications with Managing editor is Danielle Christoffel.