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    Earlan B. Campbell - Polaris
The Complete Reenactment
Steven Campbell

Earlan B. Campbell - Polaris

     “I guess there is something to be said for the engineering and workmanship of these earlier machines. As crude as they were in the formative years, they worked due to the perseverance and forethought of the pioneers that were building them and using them.

     These pioneers are the people who I would like to dedicate this trip and this story to - the individuals that made the sport of snowmobiling what it is today. The reason I organized this trip was to recognize these people, the history of snowmobiling, and especially to my father, E.B. Campbell.” - Steve Campbell

February 17, 1985 was a day that I had been looking forward to for about 5 years. It was the accumulation of a dream that I never expected to come true. It all actually started back in February of 1961 when I was about 10 years old. My father, Earlan B. Campbell, was a Polaris Sno Traveler dealer, and had been for about three years. He was one of the first in New England, and may possibly have been the first in Maine. He had always been a mechanic, outdoorsman and a pilot, so when Bon Morrill, the Maine Polaris distributor found out he had a new showroom, it was a natural for him to be a dealer. Dad was already selling boats, motors and chainsaws. My brother and I will never forget the first Sno Traveler we ever saw. It was a 1958 W-7. The gentleman that brought it to Millinocket did a great job demonstrating it-until it was time to load it back on the trailer. He had a Polaris industries trailer behind a Ford station wagon. He tilted the trailer and started up on it but failed to allow enough time for the sled to coast to a stop. The momentum was a little too much and the W-7 proceeded directly though the rear window of the Ford wagon. Dad decided then and there that there had to be a place for these machines. If it could do that to a Ford wagon, just think what it could do to a snowdrift.

       Unfortunately, those early machines didn’t really set the worlds afire when it came to deep snow, slush, hills or whatever. Dad kept discussing the problems with Bob Morrill, and they were discussing them with Allan Hetteen, the President of Polaris Industries at that time. I think Allen thought that they were a little wacky because his machines went pretty good in Minnesota where the ground was fairly flat. Up here in Millinocket, Maine though was a different story. Conditions are forever changing, plus we have hills – big hills! One day in Maine can bring you 30 degrees below zero with 2 feet of powder and the next day it will be 35 degrees above and sticky. Besides that we get a lot of snow, which is heavy on the ice, creating slush. Finally, Mr. Hetteen decided that maybe he should test his new models in Maine. Bob Morrill organized the trip and my father became the guide and the mechanic. That first trip took place in February of 1961, and believe me, it was not the joy ride we take today on groomed trails and motels and people everywhere. It was a week of survival in the Allagash wilderness of Maine with lots of snow, slush and breakdowns. The sleds were all of the Ranger style with wooden side skis, with the exception of David Johnson’s newest brainchild, at that time the B-55 Scout. Believe it or not, it went the best of any of them as long as they could keep it running. Its biggest downfall was the lack of a carburetor heat box.

          Needless to say, they got an education the hard way. It opened a lot of eyes though and several ideas were derived from this trip and subsequent trips. Mr. Hetteen decided that Maine was a proving ground and Polaris continued to make these trips until 1966. My father and friends continued on even after that for a few years. Being as young as I was, all I could do every year was watch preparations and look at all the shiny new machines arrive and leave. By 1963 they were making these expeditions right from my fathers business in Millinocket and traveling 100 miles one way to Churchill Depot in the northwestern most part of the Allagash and returning. Finally in 1966 I got a chance to get in on part of the trip. My brother Reid had joined the National Guard and could only be gone for a few days. Then he had to return and go to boot camp. Because of this, Dad asked a friend of his to fly me into Chamberlain Lake where they were staying, and then Reid flew back out. That way I got a chance to drive his sled on the return trip. This quite a memorable trip for a 15-year-old boy and it left a real impression. I had been driving a sled since I was 10 years old – but this was different. I had to carry my own weight and keep up.



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