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THE TREETOP TRAIL AT THE MINNESOTA ZOO IS OFFICIALLY OPEN!

Last Friday, Ed, Fabiana & Chamber Chair Peggy Johnson (Dakota Electric) attended the ribbon cutting to officially open the new Treetop Trail at the Minnesota Zoo – the WORLDS LONGEST ELEVATED PEDESTRIAN LOOP! Integrating into the Minnesota Zoo’s original monorail track, which opened in 1979 and was retired in 2013, the Treetop Trail is the ultimate reuse construction project. The 1.25-mile Treetop Trail takes guests to new heights – up to 32 feet above the ground – as they travel into the trees and gain new perspectives of many Zoo animals, including tigers, moose, bison, and camels. The Treetop Trail will be open year-round for guests to experience Minnesota’s four seasons in all their glory. There is no additional fee to experience the Treetop Trail. Yet another great addition to Apple Valley!

Treetop Trail Fun Facts:

  • There are 7.5 miles of conduit running on the underside of the trail. That’s equivalent to just under 3,000 African Bush Elephants standing in a single file line!
  • The trail is comprised of more than 15,000 composite deck boards that were manufactured in Worthington, Minnesota. That’s enough boards to make 165 average residential decks.
  • The trail consists of 80,000 decking fasteners.
  • The project has a total of nearly 1,000 tons of new structural steel which reinforces angles, walkway frames, and handrails around the curves in the trail.
  • Let there be light! The trail has more than 1,800 light fixtures in between the railings, alternating left to right every four feet.
  • The trail was built in 20-foot modular sections (400 total). Each was wheeled into place by a custom-made trolley fabricated for this project.
  • As of June 2023, the trail has required 80,000+ labor hours to complete, all of which were done with no incidents or injuries reported.
SO WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MONORAIL?
At it’s inception, it was viewed as a futuristic way for families to see Zoo exhibits without trekking miles on foot. But it eventually shut down as parts became hard to find and ridership declined. The first monrail ride was given in 1979 and the last rolled out in 2013. Not long after that, Gabe Emerson of St. Paul called the Zoo to see if the monorail was for sale. Emerson said he paid around $1,000 for six monorail cars and about six times that to get them to their new home in western Wisconsin. He and his friends have transformed the train into a campsite with a deck that extends the entire length of the monorail (photo below).

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