June 26, 2019
My monorail cabin project is apparently trending online! It all started when the Pioneer Press’ summer intern found this site, and published an article in the local paper:
Whatever happened to the Minnesota Zoo monorail cars? A St. Paul guy turned some into cabins.
From there, it got picked up by car website Jalopnik:
And then the Weather Channel. Really? The Weather Channel? I even had to ask the reporter who called me, what? really? Apparently, yes, really.
And so it goes!
I’ve put up a quick Youtube video with a few more details and some video of moving the monorail! If you’d like to support this site and my silly projects, please subscribe to my channel! This is my first *ahem* “real” youtube vid aside from some old junk from college and un-narrated randomness, so I apologize for all the “ums” and “uhs”. If I keep doing this, it might get better…
May 10, 2018
I’ve added some “artifacts” to my miniature monorail museum, located in the head car of the former MN Zoo Monorail that I bought a couple years ago.
While I’m trying to keep the monorail mostly original, that big hulking power box in the back of the driver’s cab was just begging to be turned into a display case. A little dremel work and a plexiglass window and it’s much nicer than before! Plus the mice don’t chew on my toy trains now! (Keeping mice out of this thing might be impossible, it even came with some free zoo mice when I first got it 😛 )
The Baron, as a former monorail driver, has moved up to my upper shelf of MN Zoo-related memorabilia. The lower shelf is more general monorail “stuff”, since people keep giving me monorail toys and whatnot that they come across. In addition to the obvious Disney monorail, I managed to find an HO scale Von Roll MkIII model that’s pretty darn close to this one! The MkIII was in the same family as the zoo’s UMI Tourister, just a little more developed and streamlined.
The wall displays document monorail tech, MN zoo history, and other monorail-related tidbits.
And outside the monorail I’ve stuck a “historic marker” for random visitors. Although the train is on private property and not open to the public, we do get some friends and acquaintances stopping by who are curious about it!
February 3, 2017
Here are a few more updates and photos of the monorail!
The station platform and new steps:
And some winter views:
And a few more concept renderings:
On a sadder note, I recently learned that Kim Pedersen has passed away. Kim founded the Monorail Society and authored a great book on the history and technology of monorail trains. He will be truly missed.
September 18, 2016
Below are some aerial photos of the monorail showing our “station” (deck) platform started, and the very scenic rural setting between farms and forest:
Aerial photos are courtesy of Tim Walgrave.
Below is a newer floorplan render, showing potential layouts for two cars. This version includes a “sleeping”/”living room”/”office” car and a “kitchen”/”dining”/”guest” car. My improvements will mostly be drop-in modules that don’t permanently alter the car interiors. I have a few friends using the other cars and designing their own interesting interiors!
A close-up of the main control panel, featuring some more museum displays and a Baron von Raschke action figure (after his professional wrestling career, the Baron drove the monorail at the zoo). If any of my readers have photos or artifacts they’d like to share in this small and very unofficial museum, please let me know!
We also have a projector screen that can be set up for monorail movie nights!
More to come as I continue working on this!
April 22, 2016
After I purchased a monorail train from the Minnesota Zoo, I was contacted by some folks from New York who plan to start a monorail museum. As I had apparently become an “expert” at getting 1970s monorail cars onto trailers, they asked me to help with the loading process once they purchased the remaining cars.
With larger commercial vehicles and powered winches available, the move went a lot faster! We were able to get 4 cars per load on two trailers.
We moved out all 11 remaining cars in three loads this way. On the final trip they also picked up some wheel bogies to add to the museum display.
The service barn looks very empty now with no trains parked inside!
Kim Pedersen with the Monorail Society was instrumental in connecting me with the museum people. You can check out Kim’s new book here (it’s great, especially for reading while in a monorail!)
April 8, 2016
Recently I happened across the estate sale of a former MN Zoo employee. I was able to pick up a number of old zoo shirts ranging from the 1980s to more recently. A few of these have a neat little “Conservation” montage of zoo animals and the monorail:
There were also quite a few issues of Minnesota Zoo Magazine from the 1980s. A few of them had monorail-related pieces, including a neat shot of the snowplow in action.
And we even found a monorail ticket from 2008! (Two-sided scan below)
Some of these will probably end up in my mini-museum in the monorail cab.
January 13, 2016
While cleaning out my monorail cars I came across a few interesting documents. Several notebooks marked “Phenology” describe local wildlife seen along the monorail track. Phenology is defined as “the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, especially in relation to climate and plant and animal life”. An article from 1979 explains these notebooks:
“The operator/tour guides keep their eyes open and when a phenlolgical event is spotted, they record this observation, its date and location in a phenology logbook kept by the stationmaster. This data is summarized each day on a report board in the station for all the MZG’s public to see.” (from MZG Newsletter, Minnesota State Zoological Board, 1979)
For those interested in reading these notebooks, I’ve scanned and uploaded PDFs here. There are a few torn and missing pages, so these are not 100% complete. There is also some water damage and fading from sitting in the train for a few years, some pages are hard to make out.
Phenology – Train 2 (Covers the period of 8/15/2001 to 8/30/2013)
Phenology – Train 3 (Covers approximately 7/4/2008 to 6/19/2012)
Also found in the monorail were several info sheets on various zoo animals seen along the route. These are probably cheat-sheets for the operator / guide staff to describe what passengers would see along the way.
I’ve also made a PDF of those sheets for archival purposes, available below.
Animal Info Sheets from Driver’s Cab