Rock Island Rails: Past & Present

IAIS #513 rushes past the station at Grinnell, Iowa on 1 July 2012. (Jeff Carlson photo)

Chicago Rock Island & Pacific railroad earned its last profit in 1964, and yet it lived on for another 16 years. It is also worth noting that the popular granger road, during that period, survived two economic recessions, fought-off multiple marriage suitors, and all while competing daily against some of the strongest rail lines in the midwest and southwestern United States. However, the railroad could not at the end overcome federal regulations and demands of labor. The final page of the railroad's 135-year history was written in 31 March 1980.

Interestingly, several Rock Island lines even today continue to generate traffic and revenue, but for other railroads that were poised and eager to fill the void created by the Rock's demise. Additionally, there were short line spin-offs that recognized the earnings potential of some ex-Rock Island branch lines. With the help of several trackside photographers, the Rock of of the past is reflected in the railroading of today.

* * * Surviving Rock Island Main Lines & Facilities * * *
Joliet Illinois: 1966

RI F2A #42 leads a freight on 16 October 1966. (Marty Bernard photo)
Joliet Illinois: 2007

An afternoon Metra pauses at Union Station on 7 January. (Robby Gragg photo)
Blue Island (Illinois): 1975

An Alco-powered tranfer rolls north on the Rock in May. (Bill Johnson photo)
Blue Island (Illinois): 2021

An EMD-GE team leads a w/b IAIS freight in September. (Craig Walker photo)
Silvis (Illinois): 1977

A hot manifest skirts the yard at Silvis. (iais2000 photo)
Silvis (Illinois): 2021

National Rail Eqpt. re-purposes locos at Silvis. (Erik Rasmussen photo )
Muscatine (Iowa): 1977

CRIP 768 takes an e/b local pass Culver Tower in June (Dan Tracy photo)
Muscatine (Iowa): 2015

Culver tower is gone, so trains seldom stop. (Andrew Brown photo, 18 February)
Kansas City (Kansas): 1976

For many years, RI occupied the south side of Armourdale Yard, and Union Pacific the north side. (Kevin Cavanaugh photo)
Kansas City (Kansas): 20xx

Today, Union Pacific controls the entire Armourdale Yard and facilities. (Jeff Carlson photo, 22 April 2017)
Inver Grove Heights (Minnesota): 1980

GE U-Boats once crossed the Mississippi River here. (Steve Glischinski photo)
Inver Grove Heights (Minnesota): 2013

Re-purposed bridge now carries a different kind of traffic. (Kevin Klitze photo)
Tucumcari (New Mexico): 1976

CRIP 393 leads eastbound SouPac traffic in July. (Joe Blackwell photo)
Tucumcari (New Mexico): 2021

During October, UP 7448 passes once busy station. (Nathan Herring photo)
Memphis (Tennessee): 1962

Nine years prior to Amtrak, CRIP FP7 waits quietly in April. (Roger Puta photo / Marty Bernard collection)
Memphis (Tennessee): 2012

A late Amtrak arrives at Memphis Central Station on 12 March (Craig Sanders photo)
Ft Worth (Texas): 1978

CRIP 435 crosses Trinity River Bridge in July (Gary Morris photo)
Ft Worth (Texas): 2006

TRE 570 crosses Trinity River Bridge on 11 Mary. (Chris Palmieri photo)

Your help in the further development of this profile is solicited.

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