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Liberty Mountain Museum Annex

Pennsylvania Ski and Winter Sports Museum
Liberty Mountain

Liberty Mountain Resort and Conference Center
Fairfield, PA

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Blue Mountain Museum Annex

Pennsylvania Ski and Winter Sports Museum
Blue Mountain

1660 Blue Mountain Dr, Palmerton, PA 18071

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Seven Springs Mountain Resort Museum Annex

Pennsylvania Ski and Winter Sports Museum
Seven Springs Mountain Resort

777 Water Wheel Dr, Champion, PA 15622

Coming Soon


 

  History of Sleds & Sledding

By Alice Swann

On Jan. 21, 2001 the sled exhibit opened in the museum at the Camelback Ski Resort. The renowned Flexible Flyer was one of the featured sleds. The keynote speaker Joan Palicia signed copies of her book "Flexible Flyer and Other Great Sleds for Collectors." She explained how the Flexible Flyer, the first steerable sled, was invented and manufactured by Samuel Leeds Allen, a farmer and inventor of farm machinery and head of the S. L. Allen Co. in Philadelphia. Allen experimented with several sleds that were tested on the grounds of Chester County's Westtown boarding school, which he had previously attended.

Allen applied for the Flexible Flyer patent in February 1889, and began production in August of that year. He successfully marketed the sled to Wanamaker's in Philadelphia and Macy's in New York. The Wanamaker's Eagle and the shield and ribbon became the official Flexible Flyer trademark.

Other highlights of Palicia's presentation:

  • Admiral Byrd took a Flexible Flyer on his famous 1928 expedition to the South Pole.

  • The Flexible Flyer was mentioned in the original movie "Miracle on 34th Street".

  • Bing Crosby called his Flexible Flyer "one of the sweetest of all memories" in a 1959 vignette that he wrote to Ed Sullivan.

Palicia spoke briefly about the themed Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck sleds and Rosebud, and the last words uttered by "Citizen Kane."

Toboggans, coasters, the Cannon Ball, Skee-Boband, and Skee-Boggan were also mentioned as different sled models. Palicia showed her ski sled, a device that one rides like a scooter on the snow. She also showed a huge revolutionary model sled presently called "The Captain Avalanche", which is capable of traveling up to 100 mph. According to Palicia, "The Captain Avalanche" can only be tested on an approved mountain that has been cleared of people. A rider on it would be required to wear boots with special bear claw attachments, enabling the rider to drag his/her feet to stop. The popularity of plastic sleds has caused a decline in the manufacture of wooden sleds. Palicia suggested that anyone who wants to retain the value of an old wooden sled should not clean it or have it restored before having it assessed. Clark Gable's 1899 wooden childhood sled recently sold at New York's Christie's Auction House for a reported $80,500.

 
Pennsylvania SnowSports Museum
Goggleworks Suite 506 A
201 Washington Sreet
Reading, Pa 19601
Paul Prutzman, museum vice president
610-334-4378
PASMoffice@gmail.com

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