Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Did you know that the very first Monorail wasn't in Disneyland, but actually in Akron, Ohio? Built in 1957 by Mechanical Handling Co., the ride was designed not to be a ride, but as a pleasurable means of transportation. The designers had plans of the monorail coming down city main streets and also providing city-to-city travel. The monorail itself could travel up to 60 MPH, though at the park generally remained around 20 MPH. This speed is almost embarrassing for today, since 50 years later rail travel times in the United States have not increased at all--in fact, since the Government nationalized the rails in 1971, AMTRAK has been running slower.

Summit Beach Park was the short-lived home of the monorail, as just a few years after building the ride, Summit Beach Park fumbled and the monorail was inevitably shut down.

Hope wasn't lost though. Workers of the Mechanical Handling Co. deconstructed the monorail and moved it to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. At the time, the park was nothing special--yet this new attraction suddenly grew to be the most exciting ride at the park, carrying as many as 13,000 riders per day.

Then came Disney. That very same year they also introduced a monorail system, yet they had the effrontery to say it was "the first of its kind in America".

Eventually the monorail was scrapped. But, props to Ohioans for yet again leading the frontier on transportation experiments, good and bad.