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Dallas, Texas
National Historical Landmark

FAIR PARK

by Clint Skinner

30. The Texas Skyway

The Texas Skyway has two entryways. One is located in the Midway while the other can be found left of the main entrance to Cotton Bowl Stadium between Grand Place and the Tower Building. The attraction is a modernized gondola lift that propels the cars along a steel cable between two terminals. When plans for the ride's construction was first announced, some people showed concern because they remembered its history.
Dallas Fair park - Texas Skyway
The Texas Skyway
Photo courtesy Andreas Praefcke
*

Using 400,000 dollars from a bond election, workers built a monorail system at Fair Park in 1956. The attraction was replaced eight years later by the Swiss Sky Ride. Like many rides of its kind, the cables were moved by a large wheel called a bullwheel. The employees had to physically slow down the gondolas, help the guests vacate the cars, load them with new riders, lock the door, and move the vehicles into position so they could go up the cable again. The ride was so successful that fair officials decided to purchase the sky ride in 1971 instead of dealing with private operators.

All went well until tragedy struck on October 21, 1979. It was a windy day, causing the gondolas to sway as they rode along the cables. Suddenly, one of the cars got jammed as it tried to pass one of the towering posts. Three gondolas proceeded toward the blockage and slammed against it, causing two of the cars to plummet eighty-five feet. To make matters worse, the gondolas crashed into a couple of game booths. The engine was stopped and the fire department sent people to rescue the eighty passengers trapped in the remaining vehicles along the cable's length. In the end, one man was killed and seventeen guests were injured. The lawsuit which followed provided a settlement of ten million dollars. Not surprisingly, the Swiss Skyride was closed and ultimately demolished.

When the Texas Skyway opened in 2007, memories of the previous gondola lift were revisited by the press. Fair Park officials, however, assured everyone that the new ride had several safety features the other one did not possess. Because of the upgraded technology, no workers were needed to handle the cars. They only had to concentrate on making sure that passengers boarded and disembarked without incident. With an art deco design, the gondolas took guests sixty-five feet into the air and traveled at a speed of six hundred feet per minute. The entire length of the cable track covered one-third of a mile.

December 12, 2016
© Clint Skinner
*Author's Note:
All the pictures that are not mine are either public domain or creative commons. I provided the photographer's name.


FAIR PARK:
Fair Park - Attractions:
1. Fair Park Station
2. Main Entrance
3. Founders Statue
4. Women's Museum
5. DAR House
6. The Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial
7. Sydney Smith Memorial Fountain
8. Music Hall
9. Fair Park Esplanade
10. Centennial Building
11. Automobile Building
12. Hall of State
13. Tower Building
14. Big Tex Circle
15. Grand Place
16. Old Mill Inn
17. Magnolia Lounge
18. Hall of Religion
19. African American Museum
20. Leonhardt Lagoon
21. Dallas Museum of Natural History
22. Science Place I
23. Children's Aquarium
24. Fair Park Bandshell
25. Texas Discovery Gardens
26. WRR Headquarters
27. Science Place II
28. The Texas Star
29. Cotton Bowl Stadium
30. The Texas Skyway
31. The Embarcadero
32. The Creative Arts Building
33. Food and Fiber Building
34. Pan American Arena
35. The Woofus
36. The Swine Building
37. Briscoe Carpenter Livestock Center
38. Livestock Pavilion and Arena
39. The Horse Barn
40. Fair Park Coliseum
41. Top of Texas Tower


References:
1.Bigtex.com
2.Dallashistory.org
3.Dallas Morning News Archives
4.Fairpark.org
5.Slate, John H. Historic Dallas Parks. Arcadia Publishing, 2010.
6.Tshaonline.org
7.Watermelon-kid.com
8.Wikipedia.org
8.Winters, Willis Cecil. Fair Park. Arcadia Publishing, 2010.

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