Have you ever wanted to own your own Yellowstone Bombardier snowcoach? If so, you might want to hurry and place a bid.
According to the Livingston Enterprise, six snowcoaches are up for auction at the federal government’s General Services Administration website from now until February 13. Further, these Bombardiers (coaches 704, 705, 707, 708, 713, and 714) are reportedly the first batch of old snowcoaches being put up to auction, according to Xanterra Parks & Resorts spokesperson Rick Hoeinghausen; Barbara Agle of the Yellowstone Property office told the Enterprise more coaches will be put up in the spring.
Currently, Yellowstone owns most of the Bombardier fleet, although Xanterra has a few of the old snowcoaches as well. From the Enterprise:
The Bombardier snowcoaches have gradually been replaced in recent years by more modern oversnow vehicles such as passenger vans and small buses outfitted with “mattracks,” rubber tank-like treads. The vans and buses can be converted to summer use by swapping out the tracks for tires, which the Bombardiers cannot, Hoeinghausen said.
The Bombardiers, with their metal tank-like treads and metal skis, can operate only on snow and can’t run on pavement like the rubber-tracked vans can. With lower snowfall in some recent years, especially in the northern portion of Yellowstone, there have been times when Bombs couldn’t travel north of Norris, which limited the number and types of vehicles available for use in the Mammoth Hot Springs area, Hoeinghausen said.
Yellowstone spokesperson Sandy Snell-Dobert told the Enterprise that it’s prohibitively expensive updating Bombardiers to fit current noise/emission standards under the National Park Service.
Hoeinghausen added he expects vans outfitted with oversized, yet under-inflated, tires will replace tread travel in winter. As of writing, there is no word whether these vehicles will carry more than the Bombardier snowcoaches’ current capacity of 12 passengers.
The Bombardier Snowcoach: A Brief History
The Bombardier snowcoaches were originally built for Canadian winters, according to the Enterprise (via the Canadian Encyclopedia). Quebecois inventor Joseph-Armand Bombardier built the first snowcoaches in the 1930s, which were used as school buses, mail trucks, and ambulances, among other functions. Bombardier later went on to build the first snowmobiles, Ski-Doos, in 1959. The coaches currently up for auction all date from the mid- to late 60s (1965-1968).
Snell-Dobert told the Enterprise one coach will be kept by Yellowstone National Park, alongside other examples of old Yellowstone transportation like stagecoaches and tour buses. From the Enterprise:
Hoeinghausen said some people, especially snowcoach drivers, will be saddened to see the bombardiers fade into history. But he sees it as an improvement for the visitors’ park experience and an evolution in transportation that’s been going on since the park’s early days.
“After all, no one’s using stagecoaches to get to Old Faithful anymore,” he said.