Through the late 1800s and early 1900s, Buffalo was one of the major centers for curling in the United States. The first international curling bonspiel was held in Buffalo in 1865, on the Black Rock Channel of the Erie Canal. From Curling in Canada and the United States (John Kerr, 1904):
On January 26 1864 the Buffalo Caledonian Curling Club visited Toronto and played a three rink match with the Toronto club. A return match was played at Buffalo on February 19 of same year and the results were first the great International Bonspiel at Black Rock Buffalo in 1865 in which fifty rinks were engaged. On the side of the United States Curlers came from Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland Ohio, New York City, Paterson NJ, and Pittston Pa, and on the side of Canada in addition to those who took part in the bonspiel of 1859 there appeared curlers from Chatham, Kingston, Paris, Ayr, Port Hope and Cobourg. This grand event stirred the hearts of the people in both countries and may be said to have given the game an established position as the King of Games throughout the whole of North America and second it led to frequent friendly matches between the curling clubs of the United States and of Western Canada
The Buffalo Caledonian Curling Club was located on Ellicott Street, but disbanded in the early 20th century. The site is now a parking lot for the Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center.
In 1960, the Buffalo Curling Club was established on Sheridan Drive in suburban Amherst. The spacious and modern BCC facility housed six curling sheets, and was staffed with a full-time icemaker from Alberta who stayed in Buffalo during curling season. It was the largest curling facility in the northeastern United States.
These images are from the March 1974 edition of Buffalo magazine. They're the only images of the Buffalo Curling Club on the Internet that I know of.
The Buffalo Curling Club disbanded in 1982. The facility was town down, and replaced with upscale condominiums.
Almost nothing remains of Buffalo's curling legacy. The obituaries of former BCC members appear with increasing regularity in the Buffalo News. I found a pewter BCC mug at a thrift store (1964-1965 Crone Bonspiel), there's the occasional pin that appears on eBay (I own one), and the club logo remains on the wall of the Mayfield Curling Club in South Euclid, Ohio, thanks to a rink that once won the Evergreen Bonspiel in 1972.
Like so many other things, curling is increasingly everywhere but Buffalo, a winter city that borders Canada, where cable viewers watch bonspiels on CBC and CTV, locals drink Labatt Blue and Molson over Bud and Miller, and which has more ice rinks than one can count. In short, Buffalo is a city made for curling.
There are large curling clubs on the Canadian side of the border in Niagara Falls, Welland, and St. Catharines. After 9-11, though, border crossing has gotten far more difficult, unless one has NEXUS clearance. I found it's actually easier to go back and forth across the Mexican border than the Canadian frontier.
Buffalo is also a fairly compact city, and to locals a destination more than 15 or 20 minutes from their house might as well be in Rochester or Erie; it's one of the many cultural quirks of the region. Young adults, who are likely going to be the most interested in curling, more often live in the city itself; Elmwood Village, Allentown, North Buffalo, University Heights and downtown. Unfortunately, there's no curling club in Fort Erie, which is right across the Niagara River from the city. The Niagara Falls Curling Club is about 35 minutes away from Buffalo.
Not including the clubs on the other side of the US/Canada border, there has been no curling in the Buffalo area in nearly 30 years. Even after previous Olympic games, there was no effort to form a club in the Buffalo area. There's the Amherst Curling Club, a "paper club" named for a Buffalo suburb that is recognized by the Grand National Curling Club, the regional curling union. However, it's supposedly just used by some curlers in Rochester, where there is already a club, to enter additional rinks in bonspiels. The Amherst Curling Club has made no effort to promote or reestablish curling in the Buffalo area.
Curling enthusiasts in many other American cities have managed to start new curling clubs in the past decade or so. On the US side of the border, there are active curling clubs in Rochester, Utica, Albany, Cleveland, Scranton, and Pittsburgh, among about 150 other clubs. Ice rinks are everywhere in the Buffalo area, many municipally owned. The only thing that's needed are the rocks, hacks, dial and biter measurers, pebbling equipment, a venue that will allow hog lines and houses to coexist with hockey rink markings, and people. There's small vacant industrial buildings aplenty, many close to downtown, if there's the finances and will to play on dedicated ice.
Is it possible to revive curling in Buffalo? I fear the entrenched blue-collar culture, and the dominance of hockey, football and skiing as cold weather sports, may not give curling the critical mass it needs to succeed. Curling on arena ice can be difficult and frustrating compared to dedicated ice, and it may be discouraging to those new to the sport. Amateur hockey is so popular in the Buffalo area, it may be impossible to find ice time at an existing arena during the winter. Curling rocks need to be kept cold when they're not used, and local ice rinks aren't built with such cold storage areas in mind. There may be a little bit of hope, though, given that the region also has a collective enthusiasm about oddball preppy sports such as lacrosse and rugby. Curling enthusiasts say that the sport make the winter go by much faster, something I can confirm from personal experience. Maybe, just maybe, curling can find its own niche in Buffalo.