Monorail magic: Take a look at the marvel that once blazed a trail through Houston and Texas

circa 1950: Passengers seated in a surrey cart looking at a new monorail service in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Evans/Three Lions/Getty Images) (Evans, Getty)

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.

circa 1950: A new monorail service in Houston, Texas, ready for its inaugural service. (Photo by Evans/Three Lions/Getty Images) (Getty)
circa 1950: Passengers queue for a free ride on a new monorail service in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Evans/Three Lions/Getty Images) (Getty)
circa 1950: Two hostesses stand in front of a new monorail service in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Evans/Three Lions/Getty Images) (Getty)
(Original Caption) 6/19/1956-New York, NY- A brand-new way of travel for America's traffic-plagued commuters is promised in an experiment now being conducted in Houston, TX, where a 970-foot monorial system has been constructed in a park as a pilot line. If the test is successful, full-length rapid transit lines are to be built in other cities. Artist Ken Fagg takes a look into the not-so-distant future and envisions a monorail in operation in this drawing from the July issue of Mechanix Illustrated Magazine. These overhead, one-rail system will move people faster than either subways or surface lines and they will be cheaper to build and operate. (Getty)

Do you or your family members have any memories of the monorail? Share your stories in the comments. You can share your share pictures at Click2Pins.


Sources: Goodell Monorail Museum, William Dylan Powell’s book “Lost Houston”


About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team in 2019. When she’s not hard at work in the KPRC 2 newsroom, you can find Bri drinking away her hard earned wages at JuiceLand, running around Hermann Park, listening to crime podcasts or ransacking the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble.