VIDEO VAULT | When epic Las Vegas signs couldn't hold up

A crane works to lift the sign for Vegas World, which collapsed due to high winds, on May 30, 1991.

Las Vegas boasts some of the most spectacular signs in the world. But this area is also sometimes the site of powerful wind storms that put these large decorative structures to the test --sometimes resulting in spectacular fails.

Three sign incidents in particular have been eye-catching.

"Wind gusts strong enough to knock a man off his feet toppled the hotel sign instead," reported News 3's Denise Rosch on May 20, 1991.

What had been billed as the world's tallest "exterior sign" was suddenly bent to a 90-degree angle on the side of Bob Stupak's Vegas World.

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Clean-up the following day became a spectator event, as Las Vegas Boulevard was closed at St. Louis. A large crane lowered the damaged sign to the enthusiastic cheers of those watching from the sidewalk.

Fast forward a couple of years. In late 1993, the Las Vegas Hilton was assembling the world's largest free-standing sign at 365 feet. News crews were invited to admire the superlative structure.

Then the following summer, disaster struck...though it could have been much worse.

"We are now attempting to assess the damage," Hilton spokesman Gary Gregg told News 3 on July 18, 1994. "But from all preliminary reports, there has been no damage to cars or surrounding structures."

The top of the sign had been ripped away during the height of a wind storm. Many tons of metal, plastic and glass had come crashing down, hundreds of feet to the ground below.

When Sky 3 surveyed the damage the following morning, it seemed it incredible that no people or vehicles had been hit. Pieces of the sign covered the entry drive, sidewalk and grassy area on either side.

Jack Young, speaking on behalf of manufacturer John Renton Sign Company, was perplexed. The towering structure was supposed to withstand 100-mile-an-hour gusts, while this storm had winds topping out at 70 mph.

"The sign was engineered, manufactured, as per the building code for this type of structure," he told News 3. "When you have something of this nature and we have also had recognition all this time while we were building it and since then. The size of it and the accomplishments of it have been recognized worldwide. Now we are faced with it and it is without question embarrassing."

Another casualty of Mother Nature's wrath had occurred two-and-a-half decades earlier, in May of 1978.

The famous Silver Slipper, these days found in front of the Neon Museum, had been toppled from its perch on a free standing sign in front of the center-Strip casino bearing that name.

The front pages of the both the Las Vegas Sun and Las Vegas Review-Journal showed pictures with the identical captions: "Slipper Slips".

In February of 1994, six years after the Silver Slipper had closed, Young Electric Sign Company (YESCO) told News 3 the story behind the distinctive landmark.

"We had a little red-headed secretary in our shop there," said YESCO's Vuaghn Cannon, Sr. "Took one of her shoes and filled it up with plaster of paris. Then we sliced it into horizontal slices to make our models for each section of this."

The Silver Slipper site is an empty lot today, just north of the Fashion Show Mall.

The Hilton, which began as the International in 1969, later became the LVH and today is the Westgate. It still includes the same sign which partially came down in 1994, but it's not quite as tall as it had been.

Vegas World was renamed the Stratosphere once its namesake tower was completed in 1995.

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