Kromminga shows off original Polaris Sno-Traveler

The original invoice signed by Ruddy Monk for the purchase of two Polairs Sno-Travelers.
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     It’s a rare find, indeed!

     On display now at Kromminga Motors in Monticello is an early 1960s Polaris Sno-Traveler.

     Greg Kromminga, owner of Kromminga’s, recently purchased two of the original Sno-Travelers from Randy Monk, whose father, Ruddy, owned and operated REM Electric in town. Kromminga said aside from owning the electrical business, Ruddy was also a Polaris dealer on the side.

     In fact, Kromminga had the original sale invoice from Monk, showing that he paid $499 for two 1961 Sno-Travelers. The invoice was signed by Rudy Monk and dated Nov. 28, 1961.

     Kromminga said he had known for about 10 years now that Randy had these two original snowmobiles in his possession.

     “There were rumors out there that they existed,” said Kromminga.

     It was just the right time to sell.

     Polaris is the inventor of the modern-day snowmobile, as we know it today. It is still the biggest snowmobile dealer.

     “They birthed the snowmobile,” said Kromminga, plain and simple. The product was advertised as “Hunt, fish or just fun. America’s newest winter fun sport for the entire family.”

     The Hetteen brothers, Edgar and Allan, started the industry in the late 1950s. It was invented in Minnesota.

     “There was no other competitor out there,” said Kromminga.

     He explained the basic principle of the Sno-Traveler was a motor pushing a track. Now, the engines in a snowmobile are under the front hood. The engine in a Sno-Traveler was exposed and housed in the back. It likely sounded like a lawnmower coming down the road. And, like today, you used handlebars and skis to steer.

     Kromminga said the Sno-Traveler maybe went as fast as 20 mph, with six horsepower.

     It wasn’t until 1963 when the engine was relocated to the front. The vehicle was called the Comet at that time.

     Kromminga said the snowmobile industry peaked in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, with over 30 brands/companies making and selling them.

     Then, in the ‘80s, the farm crisis hit, and only about four companies survived.

     “There were over 30 companies at high tide,” said Kromminga, “and they all fell.”

     In the mid-1980s, Kromminga Motors was the only Polaris dealer in town, specializing in just snowmobiles.

     “There was little competition at the time,” Kromminga said of getting into the business. He said the Polaris company itself was also small enough that you could call and speak directly to the higher-ups.

     Of the two Sno-Travelers in his possession, one is on display on the floor as you walk in the door. It has signs of wear, as it was used as a demonstration vehicle; however, the original plastic covering remains on the seat.

     “It’s had very little use,” said Kromminga.

     The other is still sitting in its original shipping crate.

     Kromminga has reached out to the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, asking whether they would like to display the Sno-Travelers.

     “They came and looked at them,” Kromminga said. He said he’d be willing to either loan or sell them to the Museum. “But for now, I get the pleasure of owning them in the interim,” he boasted.

     Kromminga said nowhere on earth can you find two original Polaris Sno-Travelers that are in such pristine condition like this. He explained some exist out there, but include newer parts, or that have been reclaimed or restored.

     Today, Kromminga said the Sno-Travelers would retail for more than a new snowmobile.

     “They are so expansive today and wild with horsepower,” he explained. “They are powerful and extremely fast.”


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