This miniature ice boat was originally built in Madison, Wisconsin about 1916-1917 by a member of the Bernard family. Carl Bernard grew up in the culture of ice boating and began making models of them at a young age. Creating models helped the Bernards try new innovative building techniques and were also raced for fun.
Ice boating for sport began along New York's upper Hudson River around the Civil War and soon spread to other cold weather locations. An 1878 article in Harper's Weekly includes an engraving of ice boating in Madison. The city quickly became a center for ice boating in North America, a distinction held for over a century.