Snowmobiling had its start as a recreational sport in northern Minnesota in 1955, according to the Minnesota Historical Society. In April 1968 Ralph Plaisted of St. Paul, Minnesota, further popularized snowmobiling when he and his expedition reached the North Pole on snowmobiles, being the first mechanized expedition to accomplish such a feat.
No doubt, snowmobiling is a popular activity in Otter Tail Power Company’s service area in west central Minnesota, eastern North Dakota, and northeastern South Dakota.
Most snowmobilers do some riding in road ditches. A lot of right-of-way for electrical facilities borders road ditches, and Otter Tail Power Company’s Safety Services Manager Greg Overland urges special emphasis on safety. “Watch for electrical equipment such as substations, poles, guy wires, junction boxes, and pad-mounted transformers that often are located near road ditches,” says Overland. “Beware of excessive speed that could keep you from seeing these and other obstacles in time to avoid them. And with snow cover, be mindful that some smaller equipment could be obscured just below the snow surface.”
Overland reminds snowmobilers to ride responsibly:
- Wear a helmet, eye protection, and other safety gear.
- Take a snowmobile safety course.
- Use extra caution when riding at night, and don’t go faster than what your lights can illuminate in front of you.
- Don’t mix riding with alcohol or drugs.
“We remind everyone to exercise good judgment while snowmobiling,” says Overland. “Just a few seconds of caution can make a big difference in maintaining safety and well-being.”