In 1970 George Ward (of Wards Lumber), who at the time owned Ace’s Restaurant in Honeoye, was having a discussion with a bunch of people one night after dinner and talked about developing a snowmobile club to represent snowmobilers in the area. Only 6 people showed up at the first meeting. After that meeting, the idea snow balled and snowmobilers from all over the area were interested in developing and joining the club to make snowmobiling better in our area. Hill and Valley Riders, (HVR), was officially formed with George as President of the Club. George said membership in the club soon grew up to 200 people.
As the sport of snowmobiling grew in the 1970’s, HVR in cooperation with local landowners, developed interconnecting trails that the club could utilize. The Town of Richmond also passed a Town Ordinance allowing snowmobiling on most all Town Roads to facilitate snowmobilers so they could legally reach trails.
Richard Helling assumed the roll as HVR President in the mid 1970’s. Robert Connors submitted the papers for incorporation of the Club on December 4, 1974. The club was officially incorporated in NYS as Hill and Valley Riders, Inc. a not-for profit organization in February 1975.
A letter was written to The Town of Canadice by local landowner, participating Club member, and President Robert Locker to consider passing a snowmobile law or ordinance that would enable snowmobilers in the township to utilize specific posted roads, similar to Richmond’s snowmobiling ordinance. Canadice did finally develop a snowmobile law and posted specific roads for snowmobile operation. These laws and Ordinances are still adhered to this day in both townships.
By the late 1970’s and into the late 1980’s, snowmobiling enthusiasm was going into a decline. Many snowmobile manufactures were going out of business. Old Man Winter wasn’t cooperating. HVR membership dropped to approximately 25 members and it seemed to be a fading sport. Relatively few members remained to carry on the Club’s work.
In 1994 HVR Club President, Robert Locker, had decided to retire, sell his house and move to Florida. Scott Wohlschlegel was then elected as president. Scott had a dream of making the Honeoye area a “Little Old Forge in the Finger Lakes”, a local snowmobile mecca. Snowmobiling seemed to be on the rebound. Scott said that it was his goal to redevelop the Club, forming a new club management organization, bylaws and increase membership 25 % in 1995 and 15 to 20 percent every year after. He said back then that snowmobiling is going to come back in a big way and we need to be prepared to accept the challenges and manage the new growth effectively. Many goals were set to improve the snowmobiling image, promote snowmobiling responsible care, and work closer with the landowners to secure trail for riding year after year.
Scott was right, HVR did grow and it grew in a big way. HVR now has just over 200 families that are members (which equates to approximately 400 members counting husbands, wives and children). The club works with approximately 150 landowners yearly and we insure the trails through all the properties. Each year the club requests permission from the landowners to ride trails on private property in our community. All the trails that the club utilizes are maintained, marked and covered by a trail liability insurance policy. HVR builds bridges and marks trails with reflective signs to designate and ensure safe trail riding and to keep snowmobilers focused on the trails. HVR communicates with the Ontario County Sheriffs Snowmobile Patrol Unit and invites them to assist our Club in policing our trails. Without the landowner’s properties, we would have no significant place to ride. Marked trails keep snowmobilers focused and riding in the right areas.
Another change is that snowmobiling has become a major winter family sport. What better clean fun could you have. Most families take long rides into the Naples, Atlanta, Cohocton, Canadice and Bristol areas. Some families in HVR have up to four snowmobiles. All snowmobiles are required to be NYS registered and carry liability insurance, the same as a motorcycle or car. Snowmobilers spend a lot of money in our local economy on gasoline, in restaurants and other snowmobile related items. It’s a half billion-dollar industry for NYS. The average family in NYS spends approximately $4500.00 year on snowmobiling activities. When you break this down it is a large boost for businesses during the off tourist season. For instance to name a few, in Honeoye, the Valley INN has numerous snowmobilers rolling in for lunch, as does the Middle Town Tavern in Naples and the Mountain View INN in Atlanta. Gas stations in both Naples and Honeoye do excellent business also.
All good work done by a snowmobile club and its club members can be tainted fast if one snowmobiler chooses not to follow the rules of the trail and do something stupid like trespassing or riding in undesignated snowmobiling areas etc. Fortunately, there are only a relative few snowmobilers that choose not to follow the rules. There are many good folks out there doing the right thing at all times and policing the trails. They belong to a club, they know the rules of the trail, they promote and practice snowmobiling safety and responsible care at all time. It’s the same as driving a car. There are the good drivers and there are the few bad ones.
There are a lot of people doing the right thing for snowmobiling. It is a great family sport. If you don’t belong to a club join one. Your local club does so much in your community in establishing a usable and effective trail system that is both pleasing to landowners, snowmobilers and businesses in our area.
Snowmobiling is alive and well in our area. Hats off to all the landowners that allow us to utilize their property and to any snowmobiler that belongs to a snowmobile club and donates their time for the betterment of snowmobiling.