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

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.

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.

The monorail was indefinitely closed on July 6, 2018. It opens occasionally for special events.[6][7]

Incidents and accidents

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.[8] The 26 ft (7.9 m) fatal fall was ruled accidental by Memphis Police.[9] Her family lost the lawsuit they filed against the City of Memphis.

On September 29, 2018, six passengers were trapped in one of the cars when it stalled mid-transit. The stall was caused by a fuse that was tripped. About 20 minutes after the vehicle initially stalled, the driver evacuated the vehicle onto the pedestrian bridge above. Nobody involved was injured. [10]

In popular culture

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.[11]


  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. ^ Brandon Richard. "Mississippi River Museum closes due to low attendance". Retrieved 2021-11-24.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ "Mud Island monorail and museum temporarily closed". 2018-07-06. Retrieved 2021-11-24.
  8. ^ Coleman, Laura (June 20, 1994). "Extra effort to be dutiful causes fatal fall for Mud Island worker". The Commercial Appeal.
  9. ^ Johnson, Rob (June 21, 1994). "Fatal Mud Island fall ruled accident". The Commercial Appeal.
  10. ^ "Mud Island monorail stalls, stranding passengers". 2018-09-29. Retrieved 2021-11-24.
  11. ^ Stewart, Leah (July 25, 1993). "Mud Island gets stream of business - "The Firm" acts as billboard for unadvertised attraction". The Commercial Appeal.

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