One of the first rides I ever rode at SFGAm, Marriott's then, was the Southern Cross. I was like 7, and freaked out as we crossed over the Tidal Wave (I'll stop there! they calmed me down ;) I'm still afraid and 'delighted' by heights).
One of the posts that held the ride up was still in Yankee Harbor up until a couple years ago.
Of course, when I was a kid, there was always a rumor that one of the sky rides "fell." Oh now, it was the one in St. Louis.. things of urban legends maybe. Just like the kids who "died on the Edge." (they were hurt, didn't die.)
It's too bad these beautiful rides are gone - along with the Sky Whirl - I always got a ride on that.
Anyone know why the sky rides are gone? I would imagine alot of peeps spit and threw things... When I worked at CP some kids spit and I looked up and followed their cabin all the way to the station, walked up the exit and got em ;) Called security...
There are three supports from the SFStL ride that are still visible. It is sad to think three people died on it.
I would suggest the reason these rides are hard to comeby is the reason you suggested. Too many kids riding them and vandalizing the park and guests below. I'm sure it would cause quite a headache for many because like you stated you followed them all the way to the station. You couldn't imagine someone to do that with EVERYONE. But if this isn't the reason I wouldn't know what would be. They offer a great view and easy route to the other side of parks. (Case in point my first trip to SFGAdv). :-)
As for the stories that I have heard about the SFGAm sky rides they were removed due to the fact that the Village of Gurnee did not have a ladder truck with a ladder tall enough to rescue people when it broke down. I hear that they had to get one from somewhere near Chicago (if not actually the city). They apparently broke down a little too often. It is a shame too as they would be nice to have.
That one was called the Frontier Lift, and was my favorite of the two Sky Rides at the park at the time. It was very quiet gliding over what is now referred to as "Millennium Island". In fact, riding it at night was almost eerie on how quiet Cedar Point could get. It's too bad they couldn't have somehow built the existing coasters around the ride to keep it, but, they already had transportation available from Frontier Town to the main Funway via the CP & LE Railroad. Still, I miss riding that ride on summer nights at the Point...
I have always assumed that the cable car just "rests" on its own on the cable, I had no idea that the mechanism that comes in contact with the cable actually clamps down on it. What a horrific way to die. :(
Cable cars have been problematic for many reasons. Vandalism, low capacity, high maintenance costs, difficulties in evacuating the cars, etc. It has only been recently that a few parks (i.e. Lake Compounce and Knobels) have added new rides of the ski-lift type. Time will tell if more parks add them again int eh near future, but I would not expect it to happen anytime soon. (Though a ski-lift at Holiday World from Christmas to Thanksgiving might be nice...)
Actually, sfgam used to have two skyrides. The Southern Cross went from Orleans Place where the river rapids ride is now to behind the Demon, close to where the Southwest Ampitheater is now. This Skyride was the real tall one, that was only open for a few years after the park opened. The other skyride went from the funnel cake factory in County Fair to where the Condor is now in Orleans Place. This ride was open well into the mid-80s. I remember that it used to cross right over the Edge, and gave you a great view of the riders as they dropped from it. This one was much lower to the ground, the Southern Cross actually passed over this sky ride.
Was the wind determined to be the proximate cause?
I tend to believe so, since sky rides now seem to shut down in ANY kind of breeze. Then again, even the Busch parks seem to have different standards - I know BGA closes theirs down at the slightest MENTION of wind, whereas I was surprised to get a ride on BGW's a few years back on my last visit...there weren't gale-force winds, but it was "kinda blow-y"...