Route of the Rockets

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The streamlined era on Rock Island lasted 43 years, beginning with the delivery of the first reborn Rockets in 1937 and ending well beyond Amtrak with a "Notice of Embargo" on Trains 5 and 6, and 11 and 12 effective January 1, 1979. During the era, Rock Island ran an extensive fleet of streamliners in many hues, coming from just about every major car and locomotive builder, and embraced a diverse array of rolling stock.

In truth, Rock Island tried. It tried with line relocations and the "Samson of the Cimarron" and stainless steel Rockets powered by stylish crimson and maroon diesels. And in the end, when it quite simply ran out of cash, it was not from a lack of effort on the part of its workers and managers. Rather, Rock Island died from causes that had been present almost from the day the first spike was driven: too many agricultural branches, over-dependence on trackage rights, and a route map that seemed to reach every important terminal the long way around.

Despite its many problems, however, Rock Island also managed to present the traveling public with a number of fine passenger trains, including the original 1937 Rockets, the streamlined 1948 Golden State and the seasonal, short-lived Arizona Limited. This is their story.


Chapter 1: The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad

Chapter 2: Passenger Palette

Chapter 3: Rebirth of The Rock - The 1937 Rockets

Chapter 4: Most Unusual Rockets - The Texas Rocket, the Oklahoma Rocket, and the Kansas City Rocket

Chapter 5: Westward from Chicago - The Peoria Rocket, and the Jet Rocket

Chapter 6: Corn Country Rockets - The Des Moines Rocket, the Corn Belt Rocket, and the Quad Cities Rocket

Chapter 7: Mid-Continent Flyers - The Minneapolis–Kansas City Rocket, and the Twin Star Rocket

Chapter 8: Mile-High Rockets - The Rocky Mountain Rocket, the Kansas City–Denver Rocket, and The Cornhusker

Chapter 9: Little Rockets - The Choctaw Route

Chapter 10: "Jim Crow" Cars on the Rock Island

Chapter 11: The Eldon Rocket?

Chapter 12: Rocketing Down the River - The Zephyr-Rocket

Chapter 13: Commuting on the Rock

Chapter 14: Pride of the Fleet - The Golden State

Chapter 15: Sunbelt Sunchaser - The Arizona Limited

Chapter 16: Rock Island Lines Passenger Diesel Power Roster

Chapter 17: Rock Island Lines Streamlined Passenger Car Roster