1965 Sky Lift Tragedy at the Nebraska State Fair

31 Aug, 2012 at 11:00 am | Written by: Leslie

“I was a little girl.  Maybe 11.  It was such an unusual accident to happen in Nebraska, such a tragedy.  I remember being very scared.”  Lori Skarka, Kearney Resident

I have lived in this fantastic state for almost all of my 30 years.  I participated in 4-H and attended the state fair many, many times.  But in all my time here I had never heard of this accident.  (Click to read the article in red)

1965 ~ Sky Lift Collapses at the Nebraska State Fair

That all changed last Wednesday.  I was hangin’ out at the UNK booth at the State Fair working a shift for my job, when a casual conversation sparked a unique piece of history.  Lori told me the “beams just toppled.”

I think history is so fascinating.  I wish I would have thought history was fascinating in school but most of the time I just chatted my way through class.  Even if that was the case, I don’t recall ever talking about this accident.

Check out the words this author used to describe the scene:

“Screaming passengers, mostly children, were hurled from the small gondolas swinging some 30 feet above ground.  Others leaped out of the stalled gondolas and still others waited for rescue.”

“Mrs. Robert Morlan of Lincoln said she saw 17 persons fall from the gondolas ‘just like apples.”

The description is incredible and a bit like something out of a novel, don’t you think?  I was amazed at some of the words used to describe the scenes.

Pretty graphic.

I find this information particularly interesting as this year the Nebraska State Fair rolled out a new Sky Tram for the big event!  (Check it out behind my corn dog pic)

To my knowledge, it’s the first time the Nebraska State Fair has had a tram since, well – 1965.

I rode it.  It was fun.  It’s obviously so much safer than the contraption nearly 50 years ago.  Still, I wonder why I never learned about it.

P.S.  I love the Nebraska State Fair.  I love the new sky tram.  But I also love history and stories.  I just had to share this with you.  Please – go ride the new tram!  It’s safe, I promise.

P.P.S  Check this out!  I found this article right below the sky lift article.

The “Klan” as in Ku Klux Klan?!  I don’t know why some people think “kids these days” are horrible.  Cause let’s be honest folks.  This was horrible, too.

Makes me shudder.

Editor’s note:  One of our readers found this information and wanted to share with us.  Check out the links for more. 

Fatal Accident

fatal picture

fatal picture
Now I want to know ~ do you remember this accident in 1965?  My parents remember it (my Dad was a senior in High School) but they didn’t have much to say.  Still, a few others I asked said, “it was scary.”  Do you remember it?  I would love to hear your story! 

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  1. August 31, 2012

    Message from a HVFH reader –

    Interesting. With all the hype about the new Sky Tram, I’m surprised this info hadn’t surfaced yet. When googled, this is one article that popped up. It needs cut & pasted in your post but I’m working and shouldn’t take the time to do that smile


    Also, a couple of results came from eBay of pictures of the sky ride as it was in 1965. One operating and one crashed. Here are those links:



  2. Jennie
    August 31, 2012

    I totally had not heard of this! Thanks! So interesting!


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