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The Tulsa Skyride Completes First Step Toward a Future on the National Register of Historic Places


The Tulsa Skyride Completes First Step Toward a Future on the National Register of Historic Places

A family favorite and Tulsa tradition since 1965, the Tulsa State Fair Skyride has been deemed to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places by the Oklahoma Historical Society State Historic Preservation Office.  This underscores the skyride’s historic significance and that the skyride is worth preserving.

OKLAHOMA CITY, August 15, 2022 – The Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office issued a preliminary opinion letter on the Tulsa Skyride’s eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places.  The letter states:

“Based on materials provided and a review of our files, it is our opinion that the property is individually eligible for the National Register of Historic Places at the local level of significance under Criterion A for Entertainment/Recreation for its association with the Tulsa State Fair and the International Petroleum Exposition.  It is also our opinion that the Skyride is eligible under Criterion C for Engineering at the statewide level of significance as an aerial gondola system associated with Von Roll Ironworks.”

This marks an important first step in the process of being added to the National Register of Historic Places.  Next step is to complete the formal nomination for the State Historic Preservation Office to submit to the US National Park Service which administers the National Register program. The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of our country’s historic places worthy of preservation.

Although being listed on the National Register does NOT provide protection against demolition of the skyride, it provides important benefits:

  • recognition of the skyride’s historic significance based on national standards while raising awareness of the skyride’s value and encouraging its preservation
  • limited protection
  • eligibility for possible grants and tax incentives

The Tulsa Skyride has been an important part of Tulsa’s history for generations. Nationally-known historian Tom Lynskey notes, “The Skyride was such an important ride for countless people. It’s where beautiful childhood memories were made, and where marriage proposals happened. Without saving what artifacts we can like this beloved ride, those joys are doomed to be forgotten.”

About the Tulsa Skyride

Opened in 1965, the Tulsa Skyride was manufactured by Von Roll Ironworks of Bern, Switzerland.  Walt Disney introduced Von Roll skyrides to the United States when he added the Skyway attraction to Disneyland in 1956.  Soon thereafter Von Roll skyrides were found all across the USA.  Today the Tulsa Skyride is one of only ten Von Roll skyride installations remaining in the United States.

The Tulsa Skyride’s future has been threatened.  Just months ago its demolition was narrowly avoided.  The Tulsa Skyride is an underrated asset for Tulsa and Oklahoma that had just completed a five-year $450,000 renovation in 2019.  The skyride has not operated since the end of the 2019 Tulsa State Fair.

The Tulsa Skyride provides a unique, thrilling, and unforgettable experience for all ages that is unlike anything else in Oklahoma and most neighboring states. The skyride has never been exploited to its full potential.  And it will not operate for the 2022 Tulsa State Fair.  This rare gem of an asset should be returned to service and great success.  A transparent process with input from the public, Doppelmayr, the previous skyride operator, ropeway and amusement industry experts, Expo Square, and the Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority should lead to getting the skyride running again.

Amusement park historian and author of two books on theme park history Steven Wilson prepared the application for the Tulsa Skyride’s preliminary opinion from the Oklahoma Historical Society State Historic Preservation Office.  He launched on August 16, 2021 to increase awareness of and appreciation for the Tulsa Skyride and to explore ways to make this historic skyride better than ever before.

Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office:

National Register of Historic Places:

Media contact:

Scott Martin is producing “Paving Paradise”, a multi-part documentary on the history of Bell’s Amusement Park that will also cover the community’s current effort to save the Tulsa Skyride.  Scott is handling skyride media inquiries and interview requests related to this release.  He also will provide skyride photos and video footage upon request.

Phone: 918 864 4839 Email:


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