Images of various Artifacts of the Month's

December 2021

Artifact of the Month

Bearpaw Snowshoes

From Europe to North America to Asia, people began using snowshoes over 4,000 years ago out of a basic need explore new territories and to find food in the winter. With vast regions of the world snowbound for much of the year, hunters looked to emulate successful winter travelers like the snowshoe hare, whose oversized feet enabled them to move quickly over deep snow. In areas like central Europe, historians have discovered snowshoe-like tools, with the use of large leather flats and round wooden blocks, but the traditional webbed snowshoe design was developed and thrived with Native Americans.

The great success of snowshoes for winter travel was first observed by European explorers with Northeastern tribes such as the Huron and Algonquin, which led subsequent trappers, hunters, and surveyors to adopt snowshoes as their own. Snowshoers looked to the naturally efficient design of animal paws and began modeling their snowshoes after animal prints they found in nature. The popular "beavertail" style had a round nose with the ends coming together in a long tail. The "bearpaw" was short and wide with a round tail, as its name implies.

When the U.S. Army decided to form the 10th Mountain Division during World War II it need to purchase equipment necessary to operate in a snowy, mountainous environment. Snowshoes would allow soldiers to walk through deep snow with ease. These snowshoes were produced by the CA Lund Company c. 1944 for use by the U.S. Army.