Rock Island Recollections

Now past the fortieth anniversary of its demise, the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad is still well remembered, from its flashy Rocket streamliners, through a diverse range of freight diesels, to the final years of "bankruptcy blue". Robert Olmsted's Rock Island Recollections provides a great photographic account of the Rock in Kansas, Illinois and Minnesota from the late 1940s to the end of CRI&P operations in early 1980.


The Rock had bought a lot of Alco steam, and continued to give the company business well into the diesel era. We get to see FA freighters, RS-3s, and the repowered DL109 #621.

I've always been a fan of the early EMD F-units, and there is coverage of the Rock's FTs and F2s - the latter being a limited-run intermediate design combining the FT's internals with an early F3 carbody.

The 1970s would not be a kind time for the Rock - interstate passenger traffic, such as it was, disappeared into Amtrak, and protracted merger negotiations with the Union Pacific went nowhere. With little money and a deteriorating physical plant, the road went into bankruptcy for the final time in 1975. The Rock would struggle on for another half decade, but the writing was all but on the wall. Olmsted well chronicles this twilight era, featuring newer EMDs and GEs, old and new units in the new blue/white scheme, contrasting  with such old timers as E6A #630 and the bicentennial-painted E8 #652 working commuter trains. And finally, we get a glimpse of the world after the Rock's demise, with dead locomotives at Blue Island, including a by-then rare E7A.

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