Novelty Monorails - Riverside Park
by David B. Simons Jr.

Imagine a monorail system with no switches to fail; no spurline adding to construction costs; no shop area full of pesky high paid union maintenance personnel; no temperamental anti-collision system; and no wasteful refurbishing of the vehicles every few years. 'Sounds like a dream come true for a cost conscious operator, right? While switches are more dependable than they're given credit for, and anti-collision systems probably save more money than they cost (think of all those costly lawsuits that crop up whenever a transit vehicle strikes anything else, right light railers?), and sprucing up a vehicle's appearance can be done easily and lucratively with graphic advertising, the system in this installment of Novelty Monorails doesn't deal with any of these cost factors because of the fact that there is only one train running on a closed loop. No need for a shop or spur, let alone a switch. The station can serve as a work platform easily enough. Maintenance personnel are freed up to keep other amusement rides running as well. Train protection systems are not needed since there are no other trains to hit, and at the low speeds that Universal Design Limited monorails operate at, even the birds on the guideway can move out of the way in time to avoid being hit. But when it comes to refurbishing vehicles, Riverside Park is either spending all of that budget on their excellent roller coaster, the Riverside Cyclone, or they, like the fashion industry, are doing a retro thing. [In fact, the most money spent on this system since its installation was probably for its demolition.]

The predominantly white train is decorated with pink and blue stripes with prism decals adding to the effect that you've stepped back into the seventies. Even the "Monorail" sign is in an oldies font. Unique touches for Riverside's train are the truck driver's mirror for the operator's cab (so that he can check that all hands and legs are inside the vehicle), the metal screen that prevents passengers from jumping out one window (while the openings on the other side are open to the elements), the "bulletproof" rear cab (with a tiny armored car style window--we never did find out who gets to ride back there--maybe those who failed Disney's monorail drive training?), and the wooden center beam supporting the trains load bearing tires (remember that UDL monorails support their vehicles with three horizontal surfaces; one high center beam and two lower tracks). And speaking of beam, while most UDL monorails utilize steel construction in their guideways, besides apparently being built of stacked and bolted together 2 by 10's, Riverside has a support column made of wood. From appearances, some sort of damage has necessitated the removal of one of the normal steel columns and the handiest, and most cost-effective replacement was a pressure treated 6 by 6. [Perhaps an angry maintenance man hit the original with his maintenance-of-way vehicle out of frustration at there not being more work for him on the monorail.]

This little system in Agawam, Massachusetts is interesting more for its unique points than it is historically. The monorail is one of the older attractions at the park and it is intriguing to pick out all of the things that make it different from other UDL monorails.

[Soon after I wrote this story, Riverside Park made their monorail a lot more like a lot of other UDL monorails; they removed it. Now it resides on the list with the HemisFair monorail, the Wildwoods by the Sea monorail, the Atlantic City Million Dollar Pier monorail, the green train at Philadelphia Zoo's Safari monorail, and the red and white trains from Dutch Wonderland: the list of hard-to-find monorails by UDL.]

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