View Full Version : State Fair Monorail will be demolished

06-01-2005, 11:05 PM
State fair monorail riding into history

By Tim Henley
The Oklahoman

The monorail at State Fair Park will come down next month after 41 years to make room for renovations, state fair officials said Friday.

The removal is part of the $55 million renovation to the park and its horse barns.

"It was a difficult decision because it's been a part of the annual state fair history, but it's the right thing to do for our long-term plan," said Tim O'Toole, State Fair Park general manager.

The renovations are intended to keep Oklahoma City's show horse business from leaving. The industry brings an estimated $180 million a year to the local economy.

The monorail was built in 1964, and O'Toole said usage has decreased. The operation also is difficult to properly maintain.

"It's over 40 years old, but in its day, it was state-of-the-art," O'Toole said.

The monorail trains will be auctioned June 4.

Officials said an exhibit will recognize the monorail's historic role. O'Toole said he wants to preserve parts of the train and track.

06-02-2005, 01:03 PM
Sorry to see it go.

Build another one with A/C and they'll get a lot more riders. :)

06-02-2005, 01:09 PM
I have fond memories of riding the monorail as a kid, but that thing looked straight out of the 60's -- which I guess it was.

Glad to see things progressing at the fairgrounds, especially since it's so visible from the freeway.

06-02-2005, 07:28 PM
The last two years, my daughter and I visited the fair, and took a ride on the monorail. Both years, we had to wait at least 45 minutes in line to get on it. It may have been a long, hot, wait, but it was really nice to sit down and go around the fair, conversing with my daughter. I'll miss the monorail, but I know the fair has bigger and better things to take its place.

06-03-2005, 08:47 AM
I think this sucks that they're getting rid of it. I think the solution was to improve the monorail, not demolish the existing one. I would've loved to have seen a modern monorail like at Walt Disney World. More people might have been interested in riding it, had it been a nicer attraction.

Oh well, glad to see better things on the way at State Fair Park.

Also glad to see All Sports Stadium coming down. It's about time that eyesore come down. I was curious whether they'd demolish the parking lot in front of the stadium. Glad to see that they are. I hope they level all of that area out some, as it was originally built up like that to accomodate the stadium.

Also, I notice work taking place on the south side of the park. I wonder if they're going to pave another portion of the parking lot. It looks like it. One can only hope.

06-03-2005, 09:00 AM
I hope this doesn't turn into what became of downtown's Urban Renewal of the 60s and 70s. While we got some great things out of that, we were also left with numerous vacant lots and a lack of historic buildings downtown. It gives all of downtown outside of the CBD a suburban feel.

I'm just mad their getting rid of it. Who cares if it looks 60s? It's pretty unique, especially for state fairgrounds nationwide.

06-03-2005, 09:42 AM
The "city fathers" of this town are braindead and backward, and until they croak, they always will be.

Everything that is unique, interesting, offbeat, etc. gets bulldozed: Classen Circle, Downtown, Belle Isle, Western Bridge, and now, of course, the monorail at the State Fair.

The place is a dump, but not because of the monorail. They were too cheap to upgrade the monorail and they desperately want to tear down the racetrack, and to keep the monorail, they would be forced to build a platform for it.

They are ruining Bricktown, the Deep Deuce, and probably everything else they touch. This place is chronically backward and without vision. The thinking is so reflexive and anti-intuitive I am exasperated.

Cornett talks a good game, but he needs to show some leadership. He's a smart guy and, I dare say, I think he gets it. Not sure if he has the stones to confront the good ol' boys though.

Wake me up when there is something genuinely creative and interesting happening that the city doesn't somehow F up royally.

06-03-2005, 02:20 PM
Gee whiz, guru... It's not all that bad. :)

06-03-2005, 06:10 PM

First of all, I want to say I LOVE YOUR POSTS! I'm extremely happy that you post here. I read every one of them and find myself in near total agreement with every point you make.

You're probably right, it's not as bad as I think, but I am still royally chapped over the Hill fiasco. Secondly, I've gotten to know many of the developers/property owners of Bricktown on a first name basis, and I can honestly say I cannot think of a more greedy, shortsighted bunch anywhere. And it's wrong for them to be that way, considering the taxpayers of this city happily forked over money to them to build a canal, ballpark, etc. The only thing we get in return is a viable entertainment/shopping district. But due to their narrowminded, backward, greedy ways, the results of this taxpayer largesse are negligible in many ways.

This city and state are kicking and screaming against joining the 21st Century. And I'm not talking the typical Republican "we're good for business" mantra. That is just as much of a sham.

The reason we don't have major east and west coast industry here is that people don't want to move here. It's really that simple. Most of my bright college peers left the state at the earliest oppportunity. If you bring that point up to the rednecks and idiots here, they say, "Fine. We don't want them here anyway." A very bright outlook.

We have the do-gooder religious nuts and the right wing political extremists and the corrupt rural Democrats. What a motley crew.

When I see stuff like this about the monorail it doesn't even register any shock to me. Frankly, I would be shocked if the idiots on Urban Renewal and the handpicked Gaylord clan did anything progressive.

This is a good ol' boy town. That is a fact. I'm hopeful things will change, but I wouldn't bet one rusted old red penny on it. The only thing that ever changes in Oklahoma is the landscape after an F5 has ravaged it.

06-06-2005, 05:07 AM
honestly, while OKC is pretty provincial in comparison to a lot of cities, I've seen quite a few cities more corrupt, ill managed, and backward than OKC (Detroit springs to mind). Obviously we need to recognize our problems and work to fix them, but the persistant pessimism of so many people here is part of the problem, not part of the solution. It is a myth that people in the rest of the country (aside from texas) have a negative view of OKC. They generally have no opinion on the subject, aside from maybe a general negative feeling towards the "flyover zone". We're simply not on the radar screen. There seems to be this attitude that if only a big coastal company would come here and set up shop, we would all be riding around on unicorns and dancing in the streets of our newly superhip megacity. That simply isn't going to happen, because that's not what happens anymore. The world is decentralizing, and so are businesses. The massive factory or office that manages everything over an entire continent for a company is a thing of the past. Smaller offices in more places offer greater flexibility than the old model, and are cheaper too. We shouldn't concentrate on getting the one big tech company that's gonna risk it all and fix everything for us. We're in a far better position to pick up a couple dozen or hundred good jobs at a time over the next decade. Likewise, most of the "city leaders" are part of a generation that is on it's way out. EL Gaylord was the worst of them, and time took care of him. Time will do the same for the rest of them, and while the people who replace them will still be behind the times, they will at least not have their feet firmly in the 1950s. Visionaries are the exception, not the rule, especially in business. People with money and power and prestige have the most invested in the status quo, and if you're looking to them for progressive leadership, you're barking up the wrong tree. Any real progress isn't going to come from them, but from the rest of us working at a grassroots level to make things better.

06-06-2005, 06:58 AM
Well, soonerguru, you may be correct about a few points you brought up about mistakes our city fathers have made, but let me stress the Walnut Avenue bridge in Bricktown. It is being rebuilt to its original splendor, not being bulldozed. The Western Avenue bridge? I agree, they should have rehabilitated the bridge and left the graffiti work intact. But that was years ago. So was the Classen Circle, and the Belle Isle Power Plant.

A new monorail could be added in the future. Popular demand from local residents may warrant a decision on behalf of the Fair Board.

I personally quit going to the State Fair a few years ago. Overhauling the fairgrounds may bring me back. It may not. But I hate midways. It is legal extortion. I'd rather fly a kite that visit a midway. Heck, even casinos aren't as crooked. The fair rides? I don't trust them. They come in on a train. God knows who owns them or where they come from. And I could careless about safety inspections. The food? Excessively greasy. Has enough calories to feed a family of six in one sitting. Unless I haven't eaten in four days, I wouldn't dare shovel that crap down my throat.

Every city in this country has screwed something up. Some more so than others. The only real question is this...

If you had the money, would you personally buck the trend of the status quo culture and pony up the dough for something uniquely urban for Oklahoma City?

06-06-2005, 08:27 AM
NewPlains and OKCPulse,

First of all, excellent posts. I agree that my bitching was a little over the top, but I'm sick and tired of getting sick and tired of these folks. This city has amazing momentum, but it could easily be squandered by more stupid decisions.

The ONLY reason the Walnut Bridge and the Golden Dome were saved was because of an intense and well orchestrated public outcry by the citizens. Many of the city staff who will remain unnamed resent the Walnut Bridge restoration with an unholy passion. That's why they dragged their feet on it and blamed the railroad for the delays. They HATE the people who want trees and nice streetscapes and anyone else who will question their motives.

See for yourself sometime. Do yourself a favor and visit an Urban Renewal meeting or have a public conversation with, say, someone who is like the City Engineer, and see how graciously they accept your questions and input. Prepare to be shocked and awed. It's appalling.

Regarding the "let's get a really big coastal company to relocate here" model, you are correct, that is increasingly not the way to move economic development. That being said, Austin recently got a huge new investment from a coastal high-tech company, and they had previously gotten many more such relocation announcements. It's not impossible, or futile, to attempt to lure that which we don't have.

The one thing this city has going for it is momentum right now. That is it. A few bad moves and that momentum could be slowed to a grinding halt.

We are not the only city that has discovered it has a downtown in need of renovation. Practically ALL cities are doing what we are, and in some cases, they're doing a better job of integrating a total "walkable" community model than we are. Bricktown is still far and away from representing what this city needs to just keep up with the Joneses.

Perhaps in some of our exuberance about the changes that are taking place, we may get a little lightheaded and lose sight of the fact that we need a lot more than Firefly and Bass Pro to compete with the other SECOND TIER cities. I guess things got so bad here any change represents a significant improvement.

I'm an optimistic person by and large, but I see no value in glossing over the idiocy and myopia and insider-good-ole-boy crapola that persists in our city even today, during our allegedly enlightened "renaissance."

06-07-2005, 06:10 AM
Our monorail was one of the first ones ever built in the United States, so that makes it a historical landmark in my eyes. Shame on the fairgrounds people to get rid of it. I say modernize it and expand it, not destroy it.