Left: Antique sled collector Gail Kruse recalls ample opportunity for sledding as a boy. “When I was a child, the winters were a lot tougher than they are now,” he remembers. “The snow drifts were very high; we’d tunnel through to the barn. And there were times when they wouldn’t open up the back roads for days. We had an old WC Allis with steel wheels in back. There were times when the front end of the tractor, with the motor, would ride on the crust of the snow.”
Above: Detail from the 100th anniversary edition Flexible Flyer, released in 1989.
Below: Detail of the single-ski Bob Ski, made by Steel Master.
Above: The Bob Ski. “It has a wooden ski underneath the sled,” Gail says. “And in the back, a little rotor helped steer. It’s beautiful. You wouldn’t believe the condition it’s in: it’s like new.”
Below: The Rocket Plane sled.
Left: The ceiling of Gail Kruse’s garage (shown here) is covered with sleds, as is the interior of another shed on his property. Early on, Gail did a bit of restoration work on his sleds. “I used to paint some of the runners,” he says. “But now I don’t touch them. I store them inside, so they’re protected, and they’re more valuable unrestored.”
Above: The Bob Link bobsled, used primarily as a racing sled, featured wooden skis.
Left: The split-rail sled made by Sherwood Bros. Manufacturing had a unique steering linkage. Instead of a steel runner leading all the way to the back of the sled, the Sherwood has one solid runner that curves and stops; another runner, at the back, is for navigating.
Below: Original paint on the Flite Way sled, made in Horicon, Wis., in the late 1950s. This sled has handles for steering, and a rod bent on each side to turn the metal skis.
Above: A familiar name: The Airline Jr. was made by Allen & Co., Philadelphia, Pa., manufacturers of Planet Jr. garden tools and tractors.