Winter Fun: the Nostalgia of Wooden Sleds and Toboggans
Their mass-produced, plastic molded counterparts may be speedier in some conditions, lighter in weight and less expensive, but nothing can top the nostalgic value of tobogganing down a snow covered hill with 6 friends in tow or pulling your child through the powder on a classic wooden sled. A sled by definition has runners, whereas a toboggan traditionally has a flat bottom. Today, there are only a handful of sled and toboggan makers around the globe who individually make heirloom quality pieces using solid hardwoods and traditional methods.
Colorado sled historian and master craftsman Bruce Hoskin’s company, Mountain Boy Sledworks, makes by hand, beautiful, artistic, contemporary interpretations of traditional sleds. Mountain Boy also makes wooden wagons and push carts for children. (www.mountainboysleds.com)
For a more traditionally designed sled hand made with native American hardwoods, try these small U.S. based companies:
• American Traders (www.amtraders.com), Brattleboro, Vermont
• Arrowhead Toboggan Company (www.arrowheadtoboggan.com), Carleton, Minnesota
• Camden Toboggan Company (www.camdentobogganco.com), Camden, Maine
And for those interested in something a little more Euro and speedy, try some of the sleds by Ress-Kuschen (www.ress-kutschen.de), the Bavarian company founded in 1696.
It will be tough to secure a European wooden sled this year as the snowy winters of the last two years have meant that demand has far exceeded supply on the Continent. However, if you are lucky enough to find one, the memories that you make sledding with your family and friends on a wooden sled or toboggan this winter will last a lifetime.