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Monorail On South Main St. And Fondren Rd. In The 60s


Croberts

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I remember the monorail well, it was very close to where OST intersects with S. Main....

The other end of the monorail, which never connected to the arrowhead park end, was on main, just west of fondred. I used to walk up the rail and play in the ruins of the car in about 1965. It was an interesting experience-smashed plexiglass windows and weeds growing in the ruins of something too futuristic for houston at the time

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  • 3 months later...
The other end of the monorail, which never connected to the arrowhead park end, was on main, just west of fondred. I used to walk up the rail and play in the ruins of the car in about 1965. It was an interesting experience-smashed plexiglass windows and weeds growing in the ruins of something too futuristic for houston at the time

Now that's what I remember.....Thank you Croberts. I thought I was crazy. No one else remembers this for some reason.

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At least two others have mentioned this somewhere, but there have been no photos so far. I remember that it stridled the rail, which appeard to be a single girder on a concrete wall, it had rubber tires like a car on either side of the rail, the operator had a lever with a grip that presumably was the brake, it had thick plexiglass windows-would have been amazing to ride in, especially in a storm. The Fondren road section started on the ground and rose up 15-25 feet (im guessing) and there was a couple of hundred yards of elevated track, i would guess. I last visited it when in the 5th grade, around 1965.

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  • 3 years later...

The arrpwhead park monorail was totally different from the Fondren road monorail (see my description in the previous posting). To get to the car I had to walk on the rail itself, wrapping my arms around the girder that the car road on-so the car was above and sitting on the rail, rather than under the rail, as in the pictures of the arrowhead park monorail. So there were two different prototype monorails and three altogether, county the hobby airport monorail.

I remember this monorail off Fondren very well, croberts. The first time I went there was probably 1963 and it was exactly as you described it. The car straddled the track and the rubber tires were exposed inside the passenger compartment. It was located just north of S. Main in a field that may have been just off the end of where Fondren ended. It was an unimproved road and this was the middle of nowhere. I was 7 or 8 and going to Anderson Elementary. We lived off W. Airport and Landsdowne until we moved away in '65. We would go out there to shoot off firecrackers inside the monorail car during fireworks season. It was in a very isolated area and thinking back I can't imagine why it was there!

Do you remember the old overrun adobe house that was out there with the stairs on the outside? Same general area. Anyway, if anyone has any other info on this I would really like to hear about it.

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I don't know how I missed the discussion of the Fondren location for what appears to be the other end of the monorail. Even though I accepted the Arrowhead location, there was still a persistent memory of seeing it from South Main around the Holmes Road curve.

If I now understand this correctly, there were two ends of the rail that were not connected. And I gather there was a coach at both locations? If so, that would explain how the Fondren coach could still be there in the 60s when I rode it at Fair Park in '57. The Arrowhead coach and track must be the one that was dismantled and moved to Dallas.

Does this seem right?

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Key Map shows that location to be Fondren Park. Perhaps it has been a park since the '50s, and possibly longer.

Fondren Park was the name of the subdivision being built just north of the monorail.The land where the monorail was, is as vacant today as it was back then

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  • 9 months later...

Yep, there it is. Thanks. I actually saw that earlier at a much smaller zoom and just thought it was a crease in the original image! Interesting, it's NOT in the 1957 image.

Just getting back to this forum, after many months absence. Yes, that is it,notice the car sits astride the rail, rather than hangs under. So this could not have been meant to connect to the arrowhead park one, as I supposed earlier. This is the only photo I have seen of it! When I was there, it was in the middle of what appeared to be an abandoned un-mowed prairie. I though it very strange, seeing the future in ruins. The guy that I went there with (5th grade, 1964) became a graphic artist, and some of his best works are images of Houston freeways in ruins, rusting, decayed and covered with vines. I have always wondered if this memory stuck with him as well.

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  • 6 months later...

I know this has been discussed in a grouping of other Monorails in previous Threads but after reading them all there is still no resolution on this particular one. I remember the others but this one had a totally different design. Several posts were from those who visited the site as I did many times. Its a curiousity to me.

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You may be referencing the same monorail car I've been trying to research for several years now without any success. I lived in the Westwood subdivision off Stella Link in the late 1950's and early 60's. And I clearly recall seeing an old abandoned monorail car sitting in a field off the west side of South Main back in those days. As a child, I was positively fascinated by this beast . I vaguely remember that it was light blue or turquoise in color and that it was <possibly> repainted orange at some point. And, yes, it had a completely 'different' look - sort of 'Buck Rogers' or 'Disney' as I recall; it looked nothing the the stuff in photos of the other monorail cars associated with Houston in the 1950's. This thing obviously came from somewhere else. I would absolutely love to learn the history behind that old car. That was so long ago that I honestly can't recall if it was located in a field near Fondren Road. I do associate the memory with family trips through Missouri City and Sugar Land, though, which were way the heck out of Houston in those days. I wonder if this is the same monorail you are writing about.

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You may be referencing the same monorail car I've been trying to research for several years now without any success. I lived in the Westwood subdivision off Stella Link in the late 1950's and early 60's. And I clearly recall seeing an old abandoned monorail car sitting in a field off the west side of South Main back in those days. As a child, I was positively fascinated by this beast . I vaguely remember that it was light blue or turquoise in color and that it was <possibly> repainted orange at some point. And, yes, it had a completely 'different' look - sort of 'Buck Rogers' or 'Disney' as I recall; it looked nothing the the stuff in photos of the other monorail cars associated with Houston in the 1950's. This thing obviously came from somewhere else. I would absolutely love to learn the history behind that old car. That was so long ago that I honestly can't recall if it was located in a field near Fondren Road. I do associate the memory with family trips through Missouri City and Sugar Land, though, which were way the heck out of Houston in those days. I wonder if this is the same monorail you are writing about.

Maybe try identifying the piece of land the car was sitting on and then see if you can get ownership records for that time period?

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Well you can see it in the Historical Aireals. Definately remember it was accessed from Fondren,and the track streched out in a field visable from Hwy.90. I went to Summer Camp with a boy named Charlie Goddell and he always talked about how his Dad owned a Company which was designing Monorails. Never tried my hand at sleuthing records but I just gots to know more As a child I must have driven that thing to the stars and back in my imagination.

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  • 1 year later...

I was seven-years-old living in Houston's new Westbury Subdivsion on Hillcroft Avenue in 1962. On the way to church each Sunday(a Presbyterian Church as I recall), our car would pass the two monorail cars in dis-repair overgrown by weeds with cracked windows sitting in front of what I remember to be some kind of tin-roofed warehouse. There were a lot of other pieces of rusty metal lying in that yard as well (un-identifiable to my memory). I recall there was a reason we would stop sometimes and sometimes we would just pass by; perhaps a stoplight or railroad crossing was there?

But as we continued along the road, a large single-rail concrete structure that was obviously a demonstration track rose on the other side of the road as we drove by. If the current Google maps serve my memory well, I recall the structure with the two monorail cars were on the north-east corner of Fondren and Main. If we were travelling on Fondren, going north away from Westbury, then the rails would have been on the western side of Fondron, north of Main. Hillcroft didn't go through to Main at the time. It was a two-lane road next to one of the many open drainage ditches that ended in a big field for cattle at one house south of Densmore, my house. I, too, was attending Andy Andreson Elementary, and my older brother and sister went to Westbury High.

I believe the rail was a loop. It could have been an out-and-back single rail, but the distinctive feature I do recall is that the rail closest to the tin-roofed warehouse only rose a few feet from the ground. After about one to two hundred feet it had a gentle slope that took the rail up to about twenty feet off the ground. Then, if I recall, it went in an out-and-back loop and sloped back down to the lower part. I imagined that the lower part was used as a place to get passengers in and out of the vehicles. And, oh yes, the vehicles were designed with a groove on the bottom to sit astride the rails. Very much like the monorail vehicles at Disneyland.

I seem to remember that the rail was not sitting beside the road, but on the grass between two roads, like a divided highway. Maybe Main, I don't know. I also recall it taking a while to drive by. I always thought the demo rail was at least a mile in length.

My father told me that a man had spent "all he had" trying to convince the city to put in a monorail, but the city didn't go for it, and the man "lost everything."

But seeing these at the time, ultra futuristic, air-streamed steel vehicles lying in the weeds discarded made me think of a futuristic society that had died, older than ours.

Probably one of the many reasons I work in Visual Effecs in Los Angeles today.

I'll never forget them - too fascinating for a boy of seven.

Edited by radvfx
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  • 6 months later...

The monorail that was just west of Fondren and just south of main had rubber tires, and rode on a central rail. The car sat on top of the rail, with wheels on either side. I remember climbing the long track, hanging precariously onto the I-Beam that was the central rail, There was a car parked at the far elevated end of the trackway, you can see it in that historical photo. The other Houston monorails hung down from the track, this one road on top.

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So there may have been two futurist graphics designers that were influenced by what I call the future in ruins. And probably more. We climbed up the trackway from the ground, on the 1964 aerial photo discussed above, you can see the car parked at the east end at ground level. Then the trackway rises,you can see its shadow cast by the morning sun. It looks today and felt then like it was more than 20 feet high.

 

We rode our bikes there, and I remember riding through the grass.It was in 64 or 65, and I was 11 or 12.  And this was after years of passing the long dead end elevated trackway on the way to richmond, always asking my parent about it. I heard the story that some investor went broke trying to convince the city that this was a good idea. What I have learned since about monorails is that the can only carry small numbers of people relative to surface trackways, and yet any transit way will stimulate land use intensification, so they are not cost effective.

Edited by Croberts
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So there were at least two monorails on S. Main. The Fondren road monorail, just west of Fondren and north of Main. The car road on top of the rail. This is clear on the 1964 aerial photograph.

 

Then there was the Arrowhead Park monorail, which hung down from the rail. The two could never have connected, I was wrong about that. they were totally different systems, one part of "Space City" that never got implemented.

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  • 5 months later...

 I used to have an album on here with these in it, but it seems gone now. Here is is from the 1964 image, which I posted on Facebook. The B+W image shows the whole thing, the yellow and brown is a zoomin of the monoral car. Note that this never was associated with the arrowhead park one, which hung under the rail ( I once thought the two were connected.) It straddled the rail, like the one at Disney world. 

163907_1805711423432_895027_n.jpg

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Here is the 1964 photo-with an enlargement of the end with the car. This was just north of Main and just west of Fondren. Nothing survived by the 1970s and there is no sign of it on google earth.You can see the shadow of the elevated trackway, the rail and posts that hold it up. The car straddles a steel beam on a concrete wall, with tire trackways on either side. I remember holding the beam and walking up the trackway till we were at the full height of the trackway.I remember driving down main and looking out the window at the trackway. It was very close to Main, sitting on a prairie.

163907_1805711423432_895027_n.jpg

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  • 6 years later...

ChrisABC13, seeing that photo snapped a few of my memory cells. I remember traveling out Fondren Rd with my mom, after a music lesson off Bissonett in Robindell around 1963 or 64. She was trying to take a short cut to Arcola to go to some catholic church meeting. We came upon that monorail structure and stopped to look at it. I was about 8 or 9 years old. She would not let me get out of the car to investigate, because she was late for that meeting. Plus she said there were probably snakes and things out there. 

By the time I was able to get someone to drive me back out there, it was all gone. 

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  • 5 months later...

The car and track sat on the northwest side of Hwy 90A at Fondren Rd. In the 1960's all that was left of the single aluminum car was its skelton, all of the windows were broken and the wooden floor was rotted out.  It was powered by a 4-cylinder gasoline engine that connected to one of the two sets of rubber tired wheels that rode on the lower part of the I-beam. It whole structure and car were hauled away back in the mid 90's.

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  • The title was changed to Monorail On South Main St. And Fondren Rd. In The 60s

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