Volunteer Snowmobile Trail Groomer In Need of Repair or Replacement

The only groomer tackling trails in East Duluth and up the North Shore is out of service.

DULUTH, Minn.- The only snow groomer working on snowmobile trails in East Duluth is out of commission and in need of repair.

While grooming the trails, the Duluth Drift-Toppers Snowmobile Club’s machine encountered an engine failure.

Now the motor has to be redone, in order to keep the trails used by snowmobilers, fat-tire bikers, and hikers smooth and clean.

The 1991 Tucker Snowcat is the only groomer that works on trails in East Duluth, Martin Road, and CJ Ramstad as well as up the North Shore.

Those trails are entirely maintained by the club’s volunteers with little funding from the state.

While the Snowcat performs the most important part of the process, grooming is a two-machine job.

The Snowcat pulls a drag behind it which clears and cleans the snow.

“The drag has got a series of blades in it that basically break down the bumps on the trail, process the snow and there’s a pan on the back of it that lays it out flat,” said Rob Waksdahl, President of the Drift-Toppers.

“I think it’s a misconception in the snowmobile community that we’ve got paid operators in these machines and they’re maintaining the DNR or by city employees. That is not the case.”

While looking at repairing the old groomer, the club is hoping to get a replacement.

The outpouring of donations from community members, and help from local businesses has been huge according to Waksdahl.

“RJ Sport and Cycle put up $2,500 to our club towards a replacement, Wood City put up $500. Individual donations probably over $1,000,” he said.

The Drift-Toppers are working with the City of Rice Lake to secure a grant to replace the old groomer which will cost about $100,000. But they need $25,000-$50,000 matched.

Meanwhile as the groomer sits out of service, clubs in neighboring cities like Cloquet are lending their equipment for the time being.

“The snowmobile community has really come together over this,” said Waksdahl.

A paypal to donate to the Drift-Toppers can be found here.

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