Date: 1/13/2021

The clubs original founders, Wayne Pelkey, John Black, Dick Jensen, Gaston ‘Gus’ Gosselin, and Ernest Bancroft, Sr. organized the Sno-Bees in 1967, shortly after the formation of VAST, with 25 members and their variations of 12 horsepower snowmobiles.

One of the first orders of business was coming up with a name. SNO was purposely selected to differentiate  from the word Snow that was likely to be used by other groups. And the BEES was a reference to groups at the time doing ‘work bees’. The INC was part of the application to the VT Secretary of State to incorporate; thus Sno-Bees, Inc was born, working together for a common goal.

They soon embarked on a program of developing trails in cooperation with the landowners in the central Vermont area including the construction of bridges, trail signing and producing the first trail map of the Barre area. The members groomed their trails in groups of 4 to 6 with their snowmobiles pulling homemade 3-foot drags and such activity soon attracted many more snowmobile enthusiasts with monthly meetings, trail work groups complete with winter picnics.

Central VT trail map from the mid 1970’s.

By 1971, the membership had grown to over 200 and an Alpine with 4-foot drag was purchased to greatly improve the 22 miles of trails.

An early drag made by members of the club

From 1971 through the mid-seventies, the Sno Bees hosted the largest snowmobile ride-ins in Vermont with the 1974 Granite City Ride-In attracting over 2,500 riders on their 75 plus make of snowmobiles. In 1974, a 1968 Tucker Sno Cat (Queen Bee I) was purchased, and a club fabricated custom hydraulic drag making it the first large 8-foot groomer operating in Vermont.

The Club groomed trails from Barre via Plainfield and the old railbed right into Groton State Forest. These greatly improved trails caught the eye of other area clubs and soon the competition was on with upgraded equipment, signing and ride-in events in other parts of the State.

Queen Bee I
March 1-2, 1975 Ride-In at the Barre Canadian Club

By 1979, the Sno-Bees membership had grown to over 600 and the club remained active expanding their trail system and providing many activities for their members plus charity events and youth education. The Club purchased a brand-new Tucker Sno Cat and named it (Queen Bee II).  This was the first new large 8-foot unit in Vermont and was entirely financed by the Sno-Bees membership through fund raising activities ($30,000 was a lot of money in 1979) but club pride was the key to success.

1977 Sno-Bees Watercross at Duranleau’s pond in Washington.

In 1993, the club upgraded to a larger diesel Tucker Sno Cat (Queen Bee III) and new design side rail drag to meet needs of their expanded trail system of 50 plus miles. 

l-r Greg Rouleau, Dave Watson, Ron Plante. Queen Bee III. Picture taken at Pete Lambertis, Phelps Road.

In 2000, the club saw arrival of a VAST leased 1999 Pisten Bully (Queen Bee IV) and operated both units during winters of 2000 and 2001 to make their trail system a pleasure to ride.

Sixteen-year-old Queen Bee 3 was retired in spring of 2002 and sold to another club for their equipment upgrade.  In 2000, the Sno-Bees took a big step in their rental acquisition of a large garage building right off a main trail and used it for groomer maintenance/storage plus many club activities and functions.   The club had grown to 800+ members and was active in many snowmobile related fun activities plus youth education and a big part of the annual charity weekend for ‘Make A Wish Foundation.’

The 2021 season saw the arrival of a new club mascot, BuzzBee. BuzzBee was an instant hit , as the groomer operators would place him at different locations along our trail network throughout the winter. Riders would make it a point to find BuzzBee on their ride, and many times stop and snap a picture.

If you want snowmobile fun, camaraderie, and scenic trails, then come along with the Sno-Bees.