Engines and Snow Are Made for Each Other

The oddball contraptions that make winter worth it.

Barry Staver/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Winter appeals to our better instincts. Our tinkerers, our thinkers, our idiots. Winter makes them all crack their knuckles, pull on some goggles and set forth loudly into blizzards of invention.  And those inventions? They’re glorious. Tank-treaded propeller-driven suicide sleds lubricated by sweat and blood and skittering across the icy world on runners of made of pure frozen gall.

It’s a glorious thing, the snow machine. Today, made efficient and practical, they’re very real transportation. Fantasies made real. And the failures that preceded them? We’re all made a little better for their invention, and a little safer by their failures.

Berliner Illustrations Gesellschaft/ullstein bild via Getty Images
Alfred Gross/ullstein bild via Getty Images
Berliner Illustrations Gesellschaft/ullstein bild via Getty Images
Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
M. Rol/ullstein bild via Getty Images
M. Rol/ullstein bild via Getty Images
ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images
Ludwig Boedecker/ullstein bild via Getty Images
Underwood Archives/Getty Images
Frank Lennon/Toronto Star via Getty Images
Underwood Archives/Getty Images
National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images
Imagno/Getty Images
Underwood Archives/Getty Images
Underwood Archives/Getty Images
Planet News Archive/SSPL/Getty Images
Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images
Imagno/Getty Images
Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images