"Swiss" inner tube image

Have you ever had a teacher or professor who proclaimed that Wikipedia articles would not be accepted as sources for your term paper?

Here’s one example why: On a cursory online search for the history of snow tubing, the sentence, “Snow tubing is rumored to have begun as far back as the 1820s in the Alpine Mountains,” can be found, verbatim, in quite a number of articles, most attached to hills and mountains that offer tubing as part of their winter fun. The culprit, in our estimation? The Wikipedia article “Tubing (recreation),” subsection “Snow.” We suspect that the PR people employed by many ski-and-ride (and tube) operations are guilty of the kind of research that would furrow a classroom educator’s brow.

Take another look at the sentence in question. If Europeans living near the Alps in the 1820s came up with snow tubing as a wintertime diversion, what tubes were they using? A bit of deeper research for facts, not rumors (we could say that the Time and Temperature Building is ‘rumored’ to be slated for demolition, if rampant imaginations counted as reporting), reveals that the first viable inner tube for a tire, and we think most Portlanders would agree that those were the first recreational ‘tubes,’ was invented by Scottish veterinary surgeon John Boyd Dunlop in 1887. So the Wikipedia claim is already more than a half-century too early.

However, the inner tube Dunlop came up with was not for an automobile or tractor, but for his son’s tricycle. It was a few years after that that bicycle inner tubes, still too narrow for flotation or snow sliding, became commonplace, and later still that the more sizeable car-tire inner tubes would be available for sporting purposes.

Your teacher was right.

Of course, unlike the black rubber inner tubes that old-time Mainers remember, the familiar, use-specific snow tubes at Seacoast Adventure (930 Roosevelt Trl, Windham) have no inflation stems to poke you in the butt, and unlike the very first tubes used for recreation in the early 1900s, you don’t have to stuff them back in the spare tire of your Chevy Classic Six at the end of the day in case of a flat on the way home. It’s just plain Tubin’ on Seacoast’s opening day, Tuesday, December 26 from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Two-hours sessions are $20 for a single tube or $28 for a double, on what’s billed as the “20th anniversary of Maine's best snow tubing park.”

Check their site: http://www.seacoastadventure.com/snow/

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