Under normal weather conditions here in the Heartland of New York, the month of May isn't exactly the time of year when a student thinks much about skiing. However, in May 1962, a new corporation called the Stamford Ski Center encouraged youngsters to submit name ideas for a ski center.
The winning name was Scotch Valley, and the winning contestant, whose name wasn't readily available, won $25 and free privileges on all facilities at the center for a year. The winner had a bit of waiting to do to get on those Stamford slopes. It was just about 45 years ago this week, in fact.
The Stamford Mirror Recorder reported on May 2, 1962, "After several years in the planning and hoping' stage, a corporation to be known as the Stamford Ski Center Inc. is in the process of being organized. Options have been secured on several locations and it is expected that actual cutting and bulldozing will begin in several weeks, probably on Bald Mountain in the town of Jefferson."
A week later, it was announced that Stan Czarniak had been appointed the director and professional instructor of the ski center. Czarniak, born in Poland, had represented his country in ski jumping and Alpine combination competitions in the Federation International de Ski in 1939, part of the Winter Olympic Games in Zakopane, Poland.
The corporation learned it had received its certificate of incorporation that month, and R. Avery Robinson had been elected president. Bald Mountain had indeed been the selected site, as its northerly orientation allowed it to retain a better-than-average depth of snow.
Public stock was available for sale in July with 25,000 shares at $20 each. Sales were "highly satisfactory and encouraging" that month. Ground had been broken by this time and the trails were being bulldozed and graded. The name Scotch Valley was announced around the same time.
By November, bids were out for a chairlift and snow-making machine, and construction of a ski lodge was set to begin the next spring. It was hoped the ski center would be ready to open in December 1963.
Initial plans called for a Dec. 14 opening for the six trails, ranging from novice to expert, with its 3,300-foot double chairlift and fully equipped lodge.
Last-minute construction and weather caused some minor delays. That and the following weekend were missed. At last, there was sufficient snow and the equipment operated correctly, and the first skiers enjoyed Scotch Valley the weekend just after Christmas.
The third weekend in January 1964 had the ski center's first busloads of ski clubs from the Capital District enjoying excellent slope conditions and warm temperatures. There were 1,700 skiers that weekend. Travelers coming to Scotch Valley had nearly 60 places to stay overnight in and around Stamford, totaling nearly 900 accommodations.
After a number of successful seasons, Scotch Valley was for sale in 1981. Avery Robinson had become the owner of the center, and wished to sell because of two consecutive years with little snow and failing health. Allen R. Kryger purchased the resort in October 1981, and along with son Samuel Kryger installed an extensive snow-making system, added lighting for night skiing and made renovations to the ski lodge.
The name of the resort was changed to Deer Run, chosen to reflect the character of the ski area's setting. Plans were announced in April 1983 for construction of a 12-unit condominium building, making Deer Run a year-round destination resort.
Ground was broken in October 1984 for another 15 condominiums at Deer Run Village. Eighteen more were completed by 1987. Recreational activities were added that year, including an indoor riding arena and an Olympic-size pool to go along with other attractions, such as exercise areas and a racquetball court.
But hard times had hit the resort by the early 1990s, with several poor years of skiing. The ski area was temporarily closed but the condos were still doing adequate business.
The condos kept the Deer Run name, but Scotch Valley was brought back to the ski area, when it re-opened in December 1991. There were a few more seasons of skiing under different owners. Scotch Valley was last used in 1999. The Deer Run properties soon followed.
Plans now are for use of the facility as a summer camp for Jewish children. Skiing may possibly resume at the site. An organization called Save Scotch Valley has also been formed.
This weekend: A woman's 1924 account of "Old Oneonta," revisited.
City Historian Mark Simonson's column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area during the Depression and before. His Monday columns address local history after the Depression. If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is www.oneontahistorian.com.