ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Danecdotes: Gull Lake Drifters celebrate 50 years

On Nov. 20, 1967, the Gull Lake Drifters were founded. Since then, the snowmobile club has worked to maintain area snowmobile trails and promote the sport of snowmobiling.

3877834+14ecPnUFk3sFCnXXXsrE86Rwga6J-nOP-.jpg

On Nov. 20, 1967, the Gull Lake Drifters were founded. Since then, the snowmobile club has worked to maintain area snowmobile trails and promote the sport of snowmobiling.

"Our job is to take care of trails," club member and secretary Cindy Terwilliger said. "Some clubs have big fundraisers or different events or activities, but we are primarily a grooming club. We have 122 miles of trail in Cass and Crow Wing counties."

The Drifters are responsible for grooming trails beginning in Nisswa and working northward almost to Backus. Their territory also covers portions of Cass County west of Gull Lake, including Pillsbury State Forest.

"A lot of people don't realize that the DNR doesn't take care of (snowmobile) trails," Terwilliger said. "Those trails are ours. Right now, the Paul Bunyan Trail belongs to the Gull Lake Drifters. If another organization wants to use it for a race, they have to contact us because it is a snowmobile trail. No one has to stay off it, but they can't have an organized activity."

The cub is a member of the Crow Wing County Snowmobile Trails Association, the Minnesota United Snowmobile Association and the Nisswa Chamber of Commerce, working regularly with the latter to provide interested parties with the most up-to-date conditions of area trails.

ADVERTISEMENT

The club currently has 51 family memberships. Though membership has remained fairly consistent in recent years, Terwilliger said the club is always looking for more members and volunteers willing to help.

"The original members are in their 80s and 90s," she said. "We have lost a lot of our really dedicated people (to old age). People don't realize that we won't have clubs - and we won't have those trails - if we don't have memberships and money. Even if they aren't active members, we could use their numbers so we can go to the state and say, 'Here, these people support snowmobiling.'"

Club members celebrated the club's 50th year with a celebration dinner in Breezy Point. Many historical objects - including photos, newspaper articles and old-time gear - were on display for members new and old to enjoy. Additionally, seven of the club's charter members were special guests at the celebration.

The golden anniversary celebration was hosted in conjunction with the club's annual landowner appreciation dinner.

"The majority of trails run on private property," Terwilliger said. "Without those landowners giving us permission to use their land, we just wouldn't have trails. We offer them a thank-you meal and have a public show of appreciation."

In the future, Terwilliger said she expects membership to remain consistent, but hopes to see an increase of people with a passion for snowmobiling.

"For all clubs, if we don't start having more members ... some of our grant-in-aid monies will be cut. With any organization, it is about how we can get new members - more active members.

I see the club really continuing. We have a bunch of members who are very, very supportive of snowmobiling. It is a lot of work that our volunteers go through, and I don't think people understand that we don't get any money for making the trails. We don't have anything, except for these wonderful trails that we get to share with everybody."

ADVERTISEMENT

Antique snowmobiles belonging to club members were on display for the 50th anniversary celebration of the Gull Lake Drifters.
Antique snowmobiles belonging to club members were on display for the 50th anniversary celebration of the Gull Lake Drifters.

Related Topics: GULL LAKE
Dan Determan has been a reporter for the Echo Journal since 2014, primarily covering sports at Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus
What To Read Next
Guest of honor was retiring Scoutmaster Denton Newman Jr.
Thursday-Saturday, February 2-4, 2023
Saluting the businesses who serve the Brainerd Lakes Area!
Join us in welcoming these wonderful, new additions to the Brainerd Lakes Area!