By Rick Steelhammer, Charleston Gazette-Mail
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s longest-operating ski area will observe its 50th anniversary this month when Canaan Valley Resort opens its slopes for the 2021-22 snow season, tentatively scheduled for Dec. 18.
The ski area made its debut in late December 1971 at newly established Canaan Valley State Park, offering skiers the luxury of ascending its slopes on the state’s first two chairlifts. One lift served a gentle slope used by novice skiers. The other carried more experienced skiers to a 4,280-foot ridgetop towering 850 feet above the base of the lift, making possible long, brisk runs on five trails with an assortment of terrain features.
Snowmaking equipment augmented the 140 to 160 inches of natural snowfall that descended on Canaan Valley on most winters, and four snow-grooming vehicles were on hand to make the most of it.
Near the base of the chairlifts, two small buildings of contemporary chalet design offered skiers a variety of amenities. One building housed a ticket office, equipment rental operation and ski gear shop, while the other contained a restaurant, snack bar, lounge, changing rooms and warming area…