The Bennie Railplane, 1929 Glasgow

The Bennie Railplane, 1929 Glasgow

The monorail perfectly exemplifies that nothing dates like the future, it is a piece of anachronistic technology that is today largely relegated to theme parks and inter terminal airport transit. Although the archetypal image of a monorail is the 1959 Disneyland version, as this list shows, its design history traces back to the middle of the 19th century, with steam driven versions that share none of the futuristic aesthetic of the streamlined post war versions. In this case, although the pioneering system from a technical point of view was the 1952 German Alweg, the 1911 Boyes monorail prototype shows the origins of the futuristic look. (Pics)


The Bennie Railplane, 1929 Glasgow (Pictured above)

Although this is perhaps the most quixotic of all the items in this list, it ran on a prototype track near Glasgow, in Scotland and is technically not a monorail, since it had a second guide rail at the bottom. However, in terms of design history it fits into the same niche as monorails.

Boyes Monorail, Seattle 1911


This was a prototype system built near Seattle, that was never fully developed. Still its a good example of a key piece of technology, since the shape and design of the classic monorail is starting to emerge.

US Centennial Monorail, 1876


A steam driven double-decker train that was built for the expo to celebrate hundredth anniversary of the US.

ALWEG monorail test track, Germany 1952

ALWEG monorail test track, Germany 1952

Developed in Germany by a Swedish engineer, the ALWEG was used for the first Disney monrails.

Disneyland Monorail, 1959

disney monorail

Perhaps nothing symbolizes the retro futuristic nature of monorails, than the Disney Anaheim version.

Skyway monorail, Houston, 1956


This pilot monorail line, organized by Monorail Inc., made its debut (albeit two hours late because of a mechanical holdup) on Feb. 18, 1956, at Arrowhead Park near Old Spanish Trail and Main in Houston.

New York Worlds Fair Monorail

world's fair monorail

Built by American Machine and Foundry for the 1964 Fair.

Worlds First Monorail, theLartigue, Ireland

first monorail

Built by a French engineer, this monorail dates from the 1880s.

Suspended monorail in Wuppertal, Germany


Designed in 1900 and originally intended for Berlin, this monorail is still in use today.

Via Oobject