Legendary founder of half of today’s existing snowmobile companies, Edgar Hetteen died peacefully in his sleep in Grand Rapids, MN, over the weekend.

A snowmobile hall of fame charter member, Edgar Hetteen was born in Roseau County, MN, in 1920. Along with his younger brother Allan and friend David Johnson, he founded Hetteen Hoist and Derrick in 1945. The company, later renamed Polaris Industries, was the first of two snowmobile manufacturers started by the young entrepreneur.  The trio built their first Polaris Sno Traveler snowmobile in 1954.

Edgar HetteenEdgar Hetteen, founder of Polaris and Arctic Cat, was inducted into the International Snowmobile of Fame.

Often referred to as the “Grandfather of snowmobiling,” Mr. Hetteen was a true visionary who recognized early on the impact snowmobiling could have through creation of new manufacturing jobs and winter tourism. To promote the sport, he traveled 1,200 miles down the Yukon River in 1960 to prove the durability of the Polaris Sno Traveler. Leaving Polaris later that year, he moved to Thief River Falls, MN, where he would found another snowmobile company, Arctic Cat.

In 1983, Mr. Hetteen co-founded ASV, a manufacturing company in Marcell, Minnesota, to build a new trail-grooming machine called Track Truck. In recent years Mr. Hetteen published a memoir and cataloged a library of early snowmobile movies and videos that he had produced over his career.

Edgar HetteenEdgar Hetteen shows a map of his early ride through Alaska aboard Polaris SnoTravelers in 1960.