Sherwood built his own sawmill on the north shore of Henrys Lake using a canvas flume carrying water from ponds he had constructed for power. He was a mechanically minded man.
Did Sherwood have the first snowmobile in Idaho? I don’t know, but I’d like to hear if anyone knows of an earlier one. He received a patent, number 844,963 for his “auto snow-car" in 1907. He patterned it after a four runner, horse-drawn sled. A 1 ½ horsepower gasoline engine was connected gearbox and flywheel by a chain drive. Another set of chains wrapped around sprockets on a large wooden drum in the rear. That was the equivalent to the track on a modern snowmobile. To steer the contraption you moved the front runners from side to side by means of a lever.
The snow machine weighed something under 1,000 pounds. It wouldn’t win any races with a top speed of 12 miles per hour.
Sherwood didn’t apply for a patent on his car. He just built it. It was called “The Black Car.” He used magazine pictures as his construction guide.
The Sherwood store had been a stage stop for years. As motor vehicles began to appear in the Island Park area—his own was probably the first—Sherwood began selling gasoline and motor oil.
Joseph Sherwood died in 1919 due to complications from diabetes. The store he built continued in operation until the mid-1960s. The building has undergone extensive renovation and restoration. According to an article in the Rexburg Standard Journal, it may soon see another chapter in its history.