The Alweg Archives



Alweg's 1:1 test train on the Cologne-Fühlingen test-track in the late 1950s. - Alwegs 1:1 Versuchszug auf der Teststrecke in Köln-Fühlingen Ende der 1950er Jahre. Photo Copy right Reinhard Krischer

THE ALWEG MONORAIL SYSTEM is best exemplified by the Seattle Monorail. Built for the 1962 Seattle "Century 21" World's Fair this ALWEG monorail is still in service today and in the year 2000 - after 38 years - at last reached the century it presaged in the early Sixties of the Twentieth Century.

As if to celebrate this achievement the Seattle ALWEG monorail has had the honor of being integrated in the fantastic architectural complex of the "Experience Music Project" designed by Frank O. Gehry in the year 2000. Thanks to the initiative of the "EMP's" founders, Paul G. Allen and Jody Allen Patton, and Frank O. Gehry's innovative spirit the Seattle ALWEG monorail has at last arrived in its own future. Part of the futuristic ALWEG monorail plans had always been the often illustrated possibility to let these trains also pass through buildings. Frank O. Gehry has let this vision materialize.

Since June 18, 2004, the EMP is also the home of the Science Fiction Museum adding yet another highly interesting dimension to the passage of the Alweg monorail through the EMP complex. Monorail technology in its various forms has from the earliest works of science fiction literature on always been a part of both the realistic and the phantastic worlds of science fiction. (Monorail technology is one realm of science fiction that has become reality and this is one of those stories that excellently illustrates the often futile struggle that innovative technologies face again and again in the so called modern world ... ) The Alweg monorail concept offers transit technology that is friendly to commuters and the environment. The original Alweg vision emphasizes that technology should always serve its user, - never vice versa ! And part of that vision is also city planning not for the drawing-board, but for the people who live in cities ...

Daily traffic congestion demonstrates aptly that conventional city-planning has perpetuated one of science fiction's negative visions: traffic collapse. (The worldwide inability of city-planners to make positive visions come true also shows that in contrast to science fiction - considered non-serious by many planning experts - serious and scientifically accepted futurology is not fictitious ... )  

This website is dedicated to the history of the ALWEG monorail system in memory of my father, ROLF KRISCHER (May 1911 - March 2000), mechanical engineer for the ALWEG FORSCHUNGGESELLSCHAFT, Germany, and its American subsidiary Wegematic Corporation from 1953 to 1967. The Seattle Monorail was his most prominent project and we lived in Seattle from 1962 to 1966.

Alweg engineer Rolf Krischer working on one of the Alweg trains in the Seattle maintenance in 1962. - Alweg-Ingenieur Rolf Krischer arbeitet an einem der Seattle-Züge in der Alweg-Werkstatt in Seattle 1962. Photo Copyright Reinhard Krischer

he Alweg Monorail System was developed and designed in Cologne, Germany. When the EMP opened even the Cologne newspapers (and large German national papers and magazines) reported about this event. But the fact that the monorail running through the EMP complex originated in their city (and country) evaded them.

That was another good reason to start this website: archives serve to prevent oblivion!

(Reproduction of above photo with kind permission of the photo's owner, the Museum of History and Industry, Seattle) Elvis Presley, here seen in Seattle's ALWEG Monorail together with costar Vicky Tiu and dialog director Jack Mintz, rode the Monorail for his 1963 movie "It Happened At The World's Fair" (with Joan O'Brien and Yvonne Craig, all outstarred by little Vicky Tiu). When Elvis introduced the Seattle ALWEG Monorail to Rock'n'Roll no one would have believed that 37 years later the Red and the Blue ALWEG trains would still be going strong and rushing through the EMP Museum of Rock Music. Or that in the summer of the year 2000 it would be decided in Las Vegas to build a full-scale four mile long monorail system with seven stations (nine four-car trains to be delivered by Bombardier and that can be seen as direct descendants of ALWEG technology).

During the World's Fair in 1962 the Seattle Monorail played a small role in an Elvis Presley film. The film was not destined for Oscar nomination, but the Monorail got its first taste of Rock'n'Roll!

The EMP building complex was designed and built with the use of advanced three-dimensional computer-aided design, fabrication and building aids. Known now as CATIA these were first developed by the French Dassault aircraft company to design Mirage fighters and were adapted for commercial aircraft design by the Boeing Company.

Dr. Wenner-Gren, the Alweg Monorail's financier, was during the 1950s also a computer industry pioneer. A number of the first highly qualified Alweg engineers had previously worked in the German aircraft industry (namely Messerschmitt, Heinkel, Arado and Dornier, - engineer Rolf Krischer had worked for Dornier), closed down by Allied decree after World War II. (Which explains why the first Alweg test trains looked a bit like "airframes without wings" and why certain aluminum building techniques were favored by the Alweg specialists.)

This website was established on June 23, 2000.

Seattle Alweg + EMP. Photo and Copyright LINDSAY KORST


The information provided by The Alweg Archives is based on the fourteen year long special personal affiliation the author has had with Alweg, on original Alweg material gathered during these years, on conversations/correspondence with and material from former Alweg employees, on a collection of German and American/British specialist literature dealing with monorail technology, on a collection of mainly German and American newspaper and magazine articles from the 1950s and 1960s dealing with Alweg and monorails in general, on extensive literature dealing with relevant transportation topics and on information generously made available by companies that once worked together with Alweg or supplied components for Alweg projects.

The author expresses his gratitude to all persons and institutions who have contributed information, material or helpful hints pointing toward possible sources. Research continues unabated. Some materials have not yet been published because they need to be complemented by still missing information or to be placed in a correct chronological order.

Thank you for all the assistance and encouragement given to The Alweg Archives!

Reinhard Krischer

Always looking for Alweg and monorail in general material:

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Reinhard Krischer
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