The New International Encyclopædia/Toboggan
TOBOGGAN (North American Indian otobanask, odabagan, sled). A vehicle used for coasting, which differs from the ordinary coasting sled in that it has no runners beneath its flat surface. It seems to have been improvised by the Indian hunters, who used it to bring in their dead game over the snow. With them it was simply a strip of bark turned up at the front to facilitate its passage over rough ground and braced by strips or pieces of wood running both crosswise and along the edges. Among the Eskimos it was made from strips of whalebone. It is of the same primitive pattern to-day, except that in some cases a light rail runs along its sides. For sporting purposes it is usually made of thin strips of ash, maple, or hickory, slightly oval on the bearing surface, placed side by side and fastened at the ends, the under surface being highly polished. The ordinary toboggan is about 18 inches wide and 6 to 8 feet long. The usual number of occupants is four. One sits in front with his feet under the hood, two in the centre, and the steersman at the back. The latter sits crouching, one leg bent, the other stretched behind him to be used as a rudder, for which purpose his moccasin has a hard leather steering-tip. In some cities, especially Montreal, chutes are constructed for this sport. Great speed is attained on them; a distance of 900 yards has been traveled in 30 seconds. See Coasting.