To provide access to Mud Island, the city designed and built a monorail system. The monorail consists of two Swiss built tram cars suspended on a single rail under a 1/3-mile long truss bridge. The cars are connected by a cable. The cable is driven at 7 miles per hour to pull the cars from end to end. Both cars move at the same time and pass each other at the center of the crossing.
The monorail bridge structure also supports a pedestrian walkway. The path runs through the truss structure. While the walkway is open on the sides, it does have a roof. This allows pedestrians to cross from the convention center station on Front Street to the Mississippi River Museum on Mud Island without being rained upon.
The tramway is formally known as the Memphis Suspension Railway, but it is most commonly referred to as the Mud Island Monorail. The walkway opened on June 29, 1981, The tramway did not open until over a year later. It celebrated its grand opening on July 3, 1982. The US Coast Guard required that the monorail have the same clearance over Wolf Harbor as the nearby Hernando De Soto Bridge, which explains why the structure was built 80 feet above the water level.
The Mud Island Monorail was featured in the movie ‘The Firm’ starring Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman. During a foot chase near the climax of the movie, Mitch McDeere (Tom Cruise) was chased across the bridge and back by a hit-man (Tobin Bell). This excellent movie gets high marks from this author for showing scenes from the Memphis waterfront.
The photo above is the tramway support bridge looking west across the Wolf Harbor river channel towards Mud Island. The photo below is the railway station located on Mud Island near the Mississippi River Museum.