Happy Valley
Alfred, NY
1965-1980

 History ~ Recent Photos ~ Memories

History

We first heard of this ski area from Rob Young, who used to practice here with the Alfred University Ski Team. Happy Valley likely began around 1965, when the Alfred Agricultural and Tech Institute installed an 1153' long, 251' vertical Hall T-bar near their campus. The T-bar ran at 450'/minute and could serve 800 skiers per hour (Skilifts.org). The school would later be renamed Alfred State. The ski area was simple, a wide open slope with some narrow trails, but was cheap and affordable for college students. Though owned by the college, it was run by the Curran Family who still owns the Alfred Ski Shop.

Sadly, the ski area closed around 1980, likely due to higher operating costs. Also, 1980 was not a good season for snowfall.

The aerial view from 1990 on the right shows a grown in main slope, with the narrower trails still visible.

Today the area has grown in further , but the main slope is still visible.

Recent Photos

Many thanks to Denis Donnelly who visited Happy Valley on November 6, 2011, and took the following shots. The area continues to return to nature but significant remnants remain. Click on each photo for a larger version.

View of the ski area from the base, showing the slope is still recognizable. View of the bottom of the rope tow. Collapsed rope tow building.

 

Inside the remains of the rope tow building. Looking down the slope to the base of the rope tow. Looking down the slope from the summit. Top rope tow tower.

 

Memories

Many readers remember this ski area - here are their memories: 

Mike Strong: I grew up in Alfred, New York, a small college town that was blessed to have a ski slope (less than 500 ft vertical drop) just on the other side of the valley Alfred is located in. †It was just off the highway that ran past the town, and the school bus would even make a special stop for kids (like me) who would go there after school, on a regular basis, to ski, until their parents got out of work and picked them up to take them home. †Talk about child care! †It was wonderful, and we would ski, literally, every day that the place was open, all winter long. †

The family that used to run this place is named Curran, and they still run the Alfred Sports Shop. †If you look up Phil Curran in the Alfred, NY area, or any Curran in the Alfred area (I think Pat still lives there, and they also had another brother Chris, all of whom I went to school with) they'd have all the history and pics and so forth.†

I looked at Google earth to see how it appears, and the satellite map of that area is terrible, no resolution, you can't see a thing. †Disappointing. †But on the terrain map, the hill is located just south of Route 244 (the Belmont Road), and just North of Alfred itself, just over the hill (on the North facing side of the hill, of course) from Alfred State College. †If you drive up route 244 from Alfred, you'll see on your left as you climb 244 an old, pretty much abandoned parking lot, and you might even see where the foundation of the lodge was. †The ski slope itself is perfectly obvious, a big field that climbs up to the top of the hill. †

I think it closed in 1981 or so, I'm sure insurance had something to do with it. †There was a rope tow that was rarely used, we used the T bar almost all the time, no chairlift. †They did have snowmaking for at least the last few years, and there were four runs, and now I can't remember all of the names. †There was the main slope, and there was Banana Bend (to the right, as you looked up the mountain) and there was another run on the left of the main slope, don't remember what we called that, but it had, marvelously, a true ramp jump, that would be built up with haybales and groomed carefully, and came down on a very very steep (and therefore supremely soft) landing, so that we would make some serious and crazy jumps, I'm talking 30 - 40 feet from takeoff to landing, with spread eagles and tip drops, crossed skis, and 360s (or Helicopters) from the truly skilled and bold. †No flips, but we always talked about it. †Kids started going off the ramp jump when they were no more than 11 or 12 years old, it's hilarious to think of it in retrospect. †It was a major rite of passage to go off that thing, great stories out there, and plenty of injuries as well, but nothing we couldn't recover from. †Then there was one other run, that went way out and came way back, like a long lazy run, but I honestly don't remember what it was called. †Our favorite thing to do, when we tired of tucking it down the broad face over and over again, was to go "grubbing" -- which was to just launch ourselves into the entirely uncleared woods that surrounded the place (of course you could only do this if there was a good dose of powder), and work on our tight and risky powder turns where an inch the wrong way and you ended up best friends with a birch tree. †Or you hooked your tips on some brush and got a snow sandwich for lunch and foggy goggles.


Denis Donnelly sent us this photo of Happy Valley from his yearbook, 1975-1976, in the Winter Carnival section. You can see the T-bar at the lower left, and snowguns in the upper right. Click on the photo for the larger version.

Eric Fowler: Formerly in Alfred, western New York, the main run and a few (sort of) side runs. Three hundred foot vertical (yippee!). Single T-bar, rope tow in intermittent operation. Season pass, juvenile, $70 in 1977, which works out to about 1.5 cents per run if you go every single day except Christmas and New Years. This is a clue as to why the Valley went broke sometime after I left the area in 1978. The school bus used to stop in front of the main lodge, and the local school would simply reconvene at the ski area every day.

It was operated by the Curran family who still own the Alfred Sport Shop
.

Pete Daly: Happy Valley Ski Area was operated by the State University of New York at Alfred. I attended school at Alfred in the late 70's and early 80's, the area closed in the spring of 1980. It had a t-bar lift.  Alfred is located in Allegheny county (western) NY.

Mike Cuzydlo: Happy Valley had a T-bar and cost student $15 a year.  Location was the back side of the hill that the school was on.

Brian Bamberger: I graduated from there (Alfred) in 1971, (and skied there during the two winters I was there) and it was still alive and well.  I believe it is closed now, and likely closed around 1980.

Jim Kovach: In the Alfred, NY area, near Alfred State University, I once skied and area called "Happy Valley". It was not large. It was just off state highway 17.  I remember t-bars and rope tows.

Craig Clark: My wife and I are 1974 Alfred U grads and one of my fondest memories were ski dates on the mountain with her. I thought the area was run by the two year SUNY Ag Tech and did not know the Curran family ran it.  We paid a ridiculously low price for a seasonís pass. I do not remember the side runs but the main run was fun. There was a large jump on the main run that got a lot of use during the school year. It was quite a walk on those cold Western NY winter days for night skiing from our side of the campus. Getting a car made that a lot more pleasant. After a night of skiing, it was always fun to retire to the AU pub for a few beers. I bought my first pair of foamed boots at the ski shop from Don. They were a pair of Becontaís and they were the worst boots I ever owned. I would surmise the foaming was not done properly and I suffered in those boots for two years before I replaced them.  

Ann Keller Plumb: Hi Ė Iím Ann Keller Plumb who graduated from Alfred University in 1974 as Ann Keller.  I spent many a day/night after school hanging out at Happy Valley.  Loved that T-Bar hill.  I was on the Alfred Ski Team, and practiced with the guys.  But since there were no meets for Women, I went to the student council and got funding to hold an Invitational Womenís meet at Happy Valley.  Although I graduated with a BFA from Alfred, I have taught skiing (creative snow patterns) since 1981 and am a PSIA Level3 out west.  Oh the memories.

Last updated: December 21, 2011

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