By Eva Potter
It was a ski area for a short time, but the location of the former Poverty Hill Ski Area is exceptional for many reasons and it’s experiencing yet another transformation.
According to several sources, in 1963, David Dattner a Polish immigrant and diamond merchant in Buffalo, formed the Poverty Hill Development Corp. and opened Poverty Hill Ski Area on approximately 1,200 acres owned in part owned by William Nannen, a philanthropist and industrialist and the Village of Ellicottville’s former mayor.
According to Google Earth, the resort had a 1,900-foot base elevation and a 400-foot vertical drop. Its ideal north-northeast exposure provided protection from the wind and sun. Two T-bars transported skiers to the top of the hill for new skiing adventures. The resort also had a ski school directed by Ray Plewacki and Mladen Frank, along with Scotty Lavtar. Poverty Hill started off with a bang with a visit from Olympic skier Stein Ericksen who presented a skiing exhibition in December 1963.
Unfortunately, Poverty Hill couldn’t withstand the test of time. According to the Tonawanda News, Dattner’s Poverty Hill Development Corp., filed for bankruptcy on July 23, 1964, listing more than seven times the debt versus assets.
While Poverty Hill only operated during the 1963-64 season, a few versions of the ski resort followed in the next two decades. In the December 1973 issue of SKI magazine, a short article said Poverty Hill Ski Area gave it another go, hoping to attract skiers back with larger slopes and a new restaurant in its base lodge. And according to the Dec. 3, 1975, issue of the Oswego Valley News, a resort called Snow Mountain operated for two years in the same location. It was owned by Canadian Robert Lambo. Then, in 1975, Snow Mountain underwent another name change to Olympus One, but reliable documentation about how the area was used during that time is so far unavailable.
The Concord Ski Club, a private club owned and operated by Kissing Bridge Corporation, began using the northern slope just west of the original Poverty Hill Ski Area around 1977. That club listed about 200 families on its membership roster.
Members enjoyed riding a Hall double chairlift and gathering in the spacious lodge or outside on the sundeck on weekends and holidays. According to www.nspwny.org, the club originally had 10 slopes, with seven slopes added later, along with a T-bar. Membership to the Concord Club included a season pass at Kissing Bridge, but in the fall of 1990, Kissing Bridge Corporation disbanded the Concord Ski Club.
Now, not one, but two housing developments will fill the area with gorgeous custom-built homes. The Trail Heights Road project, located off Poverty Hill Road, has plans for 14 home lots. The 42 Degrees North resort community, a 144-acre development directly across the road, features 24 lots on 5-8 acres each and will eventually include a community lodge, a low-impact recreational trail and more.
It appears nothing stays the same for too long.