HUGO — Thanks to the generosity of a local resident, a dreaded stretch of road for snowmobilers will be safer this winter.
Richard Houde and his wife Marylou have lived in their home on 137th Street N. since 1976. The two have agreed to grant snowmobilers access to 880 feet of their front yard, the equivalent of 2 1/2 football fields.
“I have lived here a long time and seen a lot of mishaps, people getting stuck. It is a bad situation on this road; I see too many accidents. If you are not paying attention and you are stuck on a snowmobile on the side of the road and you have got your back to that car, you are liable not to be here,” Richard said. “We don’t use that area much over there, and I was thinking if we can get them off the road, avoid that high embankment and just go around through there, that would be okay with me.”
The Houdes’ property is located across from 137th Street Court N. and right before the curve where 137th Street turns into Homestead Avenue N. Hugo Snowmobile Club President John Udstuen said that the newly granted access is a big deal.
“For seven years we have been making small improvements to our snowmobile trail that follows the ditch on the south side. Every year we cut down some trees, we try to push the trail deeper in the ditch, but that corner has been a massive nightmare for us,” Udstuen explained. “It is virtually going to solve more than 90% of our problems. (That area) has been a seven-year thorn in my side. I am all about making things safer for snowmobiles, and I’ve never liked that area. We have gotten stuck with the groomer, snowmobilers get stuck all the time, so this is huge.”
Udstuen said the reason the area is so dangerous is a combination of the steep incline in the ditch and the overgrown trees and brush that force snowmobilers to ride on the narrow road right before the blind corner.
Around 15 members of the snowmobile club spent Nov. 2 cutting through a forest of brush and trees on Richard’s property to create a beautiful trail that snowmobilers will be able to use this winter. Richard said he is also okay with hikers utilizing the trail in the warmer months.
“Mr. Humble” is the nickname Udstuen has given to Richard. “You don’t meet a lot of people like him,” Udstuen said. “These homeowners are going above and beyond the call of duty. We go through farm fields all the time. I have got 11 different people in Hugo that I have permission slips for (granting snowmobilers access), but most of those are farm fields.”
Although Richard is not a snowmobiler himself, he said both of his sons enjoy riding and he enjoys watching the snowmobiles go by in the winter — that is, when they don’t get stuck.
To commemorate Richard’s generosity, Udstuen said a couple of signs will be installed along the trail recognizing him for the access. Richard’s response was, “They are not going to have my name on it.”
Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or