The man behind the State Fair Monorail

There are just two amusement monorail trains in California, and on of them is in our backyard at the State Fair.

There are just two amusement monorail trains in California.

One is at Disneyland while the other is here in Sacramento at the Cal Expo and State Fair grounds. The monorail is open for just two weeks a year, but Joe Chase maintains the iconic train year-round.

"I get to do what every kid wants to do. I get to come to work and drive an electric train," Chase said.

Engineering is in Chase's blood. His father and grandfather both operated trains. For the past 17 years, Chase has maintained and trained many of the current operators.

“I teach around 11 to 15 people a year," Chase said.

The Cal Expo monorail is one of the last Type 2 models on the West Coast. It was built in 1967 and molded after the only other monorail in California, the Disneyland monorail in Anaheim.

“The benefit of a monorail is that it is electric and a smooth ride," Chase said.

The ride may be smooth but don't expect to get anywhere in a hurry. The train only travels six miles an hour and it takes about 10 minutes to travel the mile-long track.

“It goes even slower in reverse,” Chase said.

Maintenance on this machine is a full-time job for Chase. It only runs for about two weeks out of the year, but like any older vehicle, it has the occasional break down. During the 2013 State Fair, an electrical problem stranded about 30 passengers on the rail. No one was hurt but they had to be evacuated mid-track.

Technology has changed on the 50-year-old monorail. The engine is GPS guided and as of now the monorail is on track to open tomorrow for your viewing pleasure.

“I don’t take it for granted. The view changes every year," Chase said.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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