HOUSTON – Advertised as “tomorrow’s newest, fastest, cheapest way to travel,” the first commercial operating monorail in the United States made its grand debut in Houston in February 1956.
The monorail prototype was built by Houston-based company Monorail, Inc., which conceived it as an answer to downtown Houston’s burgeoning traffic woes. Its name, “Trailblazer” was chosen as a result of a contest. The company installed a 970-foot test track for the Trailblazer monorail near the old Arrowhead Park.
Trailblazer’s exhibition received national and international media attention. Famous Western star Roy Rogers and his wife Dale Evans were among the first guests invited to ride the monorail.
After eight months in Houston, the monorail was dismantled and reassembled at the Texas State Fair in Dallas, where it ran from 1956 to 1964. The monorail was one of the most popular attractions at the fair and charged 25 cents for a ride around the 1,700-foot track.
Though Monorail, Inc. President Murel Goodell hoped that the novelty would spark public interest in a monorail system, the concept never gained traction and by 1964 the Trailblazer prototype had been consigned to a salvage yard.
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Sources: Goodell Monorail Museum, William Dylan Powell’s book “Lost Houston”