A singular experience: St. Paul man turns old MN Zoo monorail cars into cabins

The newest attraction at the Minnesota Zoo is the world's longest elevated walking loop that will allow guests to explore the zoo from new heights. But some of the train cars that used the decommissioned monorail track are still transporting a St. Paul man to cabin country.

"I love it. I am amused. Every time we go out there, I'm just amused that we have something that's unique and this odd," said Gabe Emerson.

After the zoo retired the monorail back in 2013, Emerson bought one of the trains for $1,000 and spent six times that much moving it to a friend's property in western Wisconsin.

Now he and his friends use the half-dozen cars as cabins for weekend getaways several times a year.

"Originally we kind of wanted something like a jet fuselage, but this was a little more local and easier to obtain than all the jets out in the southwest somewhere. It's a little harder to get a hold of one of those," said Emerson.

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From: FOX 9

When the monorail debuted in the late 70s, it was one of the zoo's signature features, bringing riders in a loop around the park. But it closed after 34 years of service, partially because of the aging infrastructure.

Emerson says he created a mini museum in the driver's cab with historic pictures, documents and memorabilia he has been able to get his hands on over the years.

"We get raccoons that are always trying to get in there. Wasps try to get in and build nests. Mice get in, so we do have to clean it out," said Emerson.

As someone who likes to recycle, reuse and repurpose, Emerson says he's glad the zoo found another way for the monorail track to be of value instead of just scrapping it and tearing it down.

He's looking forward to seeing the zoo from a new vantage point by bringing some of its past into its future.

"I think it's pretty fun. I've always been into history and I enjoy being able to preserve something that's a part of local history here and have it stay at least somewhat local, if not right in Minnesota, then at least it's nearby," said Emerson.

To see more of Emerson's videos about his monorail, click here.