Saturday, November 25, 2017

Miscellaneous Amusements

I have two somewhat random scans from fun places in the U.S.A! You like fun, don't you?

This first one is date-stamped "April, 1966", And portrays a happy group of visitors standing out in the bright sunshine. But the slides had nothing to indicate where this lovely park was. Palm trees, eh? Could be California. Could be Florida. Those might be mock palm trees, planted by the Russians in order for people to relax and lower their guards, thereby leaving wide open to a real-life "Red Dawn"! 

Anyway, I was determined to find out where this place was located. Say, what's that in the background?

Why, it's the cutest li'l monorail you ever saw! It's like an Edsel married a submarine and had a baby. At first I thought perhaps this was the monorail at the L.A. County Fair, but when I compared the two, I realized that they were quite different. After a bit of research...

... I found this swell photo of the very same Monorail - called the "Spacerail", at the Miami Seaquarium.  It was the first hanging Monorail in the United States, debuting in 1963. Here's what Wikipedia sez:  It existed solely for entertainment, not transportation, as it had only one station. It offered views not only of the Seaquarium exhibits and buildings, but also of the Miami skyline. There were six cars, though only five were run at a time, and the cars had names after fish. The cars had unique styling until they were redesigned in 1978 to be rectangular and their names were removed. The cars operated around the loop counterclockwise, and had an Automatic Block Signal system.

Sadly, by 1991, the Spacerail suffered from low ridership and high operations costs. It closed, and the cars have been used as storage sheds.

Next is this photo from May, 1962, from a mystery park. The ride is known as the "Jolly Caterpillar", and it dates all the way back to 1938. Many Jolly Caterpillars were built, and some still operate - the exuberant larva goes 'round and 'round in a bouncy motion.

If anybody has a clue as to where this photo was taken, please chime in! There's not a lot to go on, I admit.


Nanook said...


If I had to vote as to which was the ugliest - the clothing in the first photo, or the 'Spacerail' - my vote would have to reside with the Spacerail. Wow, talk about being born out of wedlock-! That's one ugly example of "modern" industrial design gone terribly haywire.

I love the Jolly Caterpillar - from his big grin to his jaunty little hat. I wish I had one to put in my own backyard. Wheeee.....

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

So THAT is where Disney got the idea for Heimlich's Lame Train at DCA!

I actually like the design of those monorail cars. I wonder if "redesigned" means completely new cars were made or if those original cars were just remodeled. Gee, where can we ride a hanging monorail these days? Southern California used to have at least three locations....the L.A. County Fairgrounds in Pomona, Busch Gardens in Van Nuys, and Santa's Village in Sky Forest. Now we have bupkis. :-(

Scott Lane said...

Gotta say I think Nanook's totally off with this one. I think those monorails look way cool.

Chuck said...

That Jolly Caterpillar may also be an oblique inspiration for the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland ride vehicles. The Imagineers and some guests would have been familiar with the older attraction, and this may have been a sort of inside joke. When you think about it, choosing the caterpillar as the character to base the ride vehicle on isn't very intuitive when looking at just the story itself.

Thanks for the Miami Seaquarium monorail photos and history. That's pretty darned cool if you ask me (which you didn't).

K. Martinez said...

I love that Spacerail Monorail. So cool looking and a great color scheme. If Blaine the Monorail and Patricia the Monorail had a baby, this would be it.

Nice pics today, Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic!, What do you mean Heimlich's Chew-Chew Train is lame?!

"Carrots are orange, just like candy corn!
This apple tastes just like apple strudel."

Melissa said...

Portions of the “Creature from the Black Lagoon” movies were set at the Miami Seaquarium. I don't think the scenes were actually filmed there, though, because only Marineland is listed at IMDB as a location. No shots of the Monorail, whose design I find fun and sporty. It reminds me of a ‘57 Chevy, or maybe a ‘63 Cadillac.

That caterpillar ain't jolly; he’s stoned out of his gourd.

Sunday Night said...

Love the little monorail. Especially the headlights. Too bad they ended up as storage sheds. They should have made motorized vehicles out of them. Now that would have been totally space age.

Tom said...

That monorail is the most beautiful piece of transportation I think I've ever seen. It's truly a monument of its time and aesthetic: the colors, the radius edges, the headlights, the sloping glass, the chevron front. Just wow.

Anonymous said...

I'm with the group on this one, I love the monorail. Sad to hear how it ended. I would love to put one of those cars on the back 40 and electrify it for an office. My friend did this with a Santa Fe caboose, and it was swell.

The caterpillar face haunts my dreams and was instantly familiar. I'm certain that this one, or a similar one, was part of one of the county fair traveling carnivals of my youth.

@Chuck, definitely agree. The caterpillar's prominence in that ride always puzzles me, unless we are meant to see him as some kind of "spirit guide" since he introduces Alice to the means of managing one's size, clearly a key skill in Wonderland. Now you have started me thinking of mapping the Alice story on to Campbell's "Hero's Journey". Too bad work is getting in the way.