Memphis Suspension Railway

The Memphis Suspension Railway or Mud Island Monorail is a suspended monorail that connects the city center of Memphis with the entertainment park on Mud Island. Celebrating its grand opening on July 3, 1982,[1] it is located beneath a footbridge over the Wolf River Lagoon connecting to the southern tip of Mud Island.

Memphis Suspension Railway
Memphis front view.jpg
LocaleMemphis, Tennessee
Transit typeSuspension railway
Number of lines1
Number of stations2
Began operation1982
System length1,700 ft (518 m)

The line has two suspended cars constructed in Switzerland, delivered in summer 1981.[2] The 1,700-foot-long (518 m) bridge opened to pedestrians on June 29, 1981; the monorail was not operational until July 1982.[2] The cars are driven by a 3,500-foot-long (1,067 m) external cable, instead of by internal motors.[3] The two cars simultaneously shuttle back and forth on parallel tracks between the Front Street Terminal on the downtown side and the Mud Island Terminal. Each car has a maximum capacity of 180 passengers and travels at 7 mph (11.3 km/h).[4]

At the time of its construction, the U.S. Coast Guard stated that the proposed bridge would have to have the same clearance as the Hernando de Soto Bridge, as it was spanning a commercially used public waterway.[5] This resulted in the bridge being constructed at its current elevation.

Incidents and accidentsEdit

On June 19, 1994, a 19-year-old female Memphis State University student, Shellie M. McKnight, fell while cleaning the exterior windows of one of the cars and died. McKnight is buried at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Tallulah, Madison County, MS.[6] The 26 ft (7.9 m) fatal fall was ruled accidental by Memphis Police.[7] Her family lost the lawsuit they filed against the City of Memphis.

In popular cultureEdit

In the 1993 film The Firm, Mitch McDeere, played by Tom Cruise, uses the railway to escape from "The Firm" that is out to kill him.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Callahan, Jody (July 11, 1996). "Still afloat - Mud Island celebrates 14th year, feels growing pains". The Commercial Appeal.
  2. ^ a b "Mid-South memories - Come on in". The Commercial Appeal. June 19, 2006.
  3. ^ Thomas, William (April 25, 1992). "Manager undaunted by crumbles, leaks, rust". The Commercial Appeal.
  4. ^ Mud Island River Park. "Mud Island River Park: Monorail". Archived from the original on 2007-12-19. Retrieved 2008-01-26.
  5. ^ Harrington, Chris (March 6, 2002). "Bridging Mud Island: The biography of an idea". The Memphis Flyer.
  6. ^ Coleman, Laura (June 20, 1994). "Extra effort to be dutiful causes fatal fall for Mud Island worker". The Commercial Appeal.
  7. ^ Johnson, Rob (June 21, 1994). "Fatal Mud Island fall ruled accident". The Commercial Appeal.
  8. ^ Stewart, Leah (July 25, 1993). "Mud Island gets stream of business - "The Firm" acts as billboard for unadvertised attraction". The Commercial Appeal.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 35°09′01″N 90°03′21″W / 35.150319°N 90.055854°W / 35.150319; -90.055854