Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race checkpoint guests are usually carried around by snowmachine. In Rainy Pass, individuals were riding in style in an almost 100-year-old antique.
The Rainy Pass Lodge has a 1924 Model T Ford Snowmobile. The vehicle design was initially patented in New Hampshire during the 1910s.
Buckey Winkley has been a hunting guide for the lodge for about 60 years and knows the snowmobile’s history. He said the hotel purchased the machine from family companions in New Hampshire in 2008 and attempted to completely restore it.
“They were very popular in the 1920s by mailmen,” Winkley said. “If you had a sleigh and a horse you delivered the mail at five miles an hour. A Model T Snowmobile delivered the mail at 30 miles an hour.”
Winkley said the snowmobile gets a great deal of attention at the checkpoint and guests to love to take a spin. He trusts it’s the only restored and functional Model T Ford Snowmobile in Alaska.
“It’s something to play with. It’s not like a modern snowmobile. If you get this stuck in three or four feet of snow you’re going to plant flowers around it in June. You’ve got to be careful,” he laughed.
A website for the Model T Ford Snowmobile Club says the vehicle was at first promoted as a “Ford on snowshoes.”
From 1924 to 1929, the Snowmobile Company made over 3,000 vehicles.
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