A New Look at a Reno Classic: Downtown's Sky Shuttle
The Circus Circus Reno sky shuttle may seem like a throwback from another era, bringing back memories of an old lost in space episode. Reno's first, and only, monorail shuttle. Still running, and today, proudly showing its retro style. As Debbie Engebritson of Circus Circus told us, "We are not going to change it. You know, if it ain't broke don't fix it."
As corny as it sounds, this did represent the space age a bit when it first appeared…kind of like the rocket-powered car we heard about. In the 80's, my friends and I called it the 'Circus Circus monorail monorail'. No, it doesn't go very fast, but back then, it was the closest thing to Disneyland we had. As Tom the tram mechanic told us, "Well it was for many years, and many people have come back and said they rode this years ago, and they just ride it back and forth."
For decades, Tom Arnold has been its caretaker…for over 6 million trips (yes they are counted), and 1,350,000 miles. Built at the peak of downtown's heyday, it began life as a Switzerland ski tram. Arnold told us, "They brought it here and set it on top of an American truck chassis with wheels. Instead of suspending it from the top, we pull it back and forth with a haul rope."
Tooling along at 4 miles per hour, it may not be the coolest or sleekest, but…it's ours. For kids today, sure, there are newer diversions. But even now, it doesn't cost you anything to ride it…yet another way it's kind of an oddball, in a world of fewer and fewer freebies. Elvia Nunez, visiting from Elko, is a fan. "Oh yeah. You get to see the different little shops and stuff...I like it. It's pretty cool."
Caretaker Tom loves the tram he's babied along for decades. As he told us, "If they ever took these out of service, I'd like to have one for my backyard."
So a salute, to an under-appreciated downtown milestone, today getting its due.
-written by John Potter