The Full Wiki

More info on Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad

Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad (CRI&P RR) was a Class I railroad in the United States. It was also known as the Rock Island Line, or, in its final years, The Rock.



Its ancestor, the Rock Island and La Salle Railroad Company, was incorporated in Illinois on February 27, 1847, and an amended charter was approved on February 7, 1851, as the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad. Construction began October 1, 1851, in Chicago, and the first train was operated on October 10, 1852, between Chicago and Jolietmarker. Construction continued on through La Sallemarker, and Rock Islandmarker was reached on February 22, 1854, becoming the first railroad to connect Chicago with the Mississippi River.

In Iowa, the C&RI's incorporators created (on February 5, 1853) the Mississippi and Missouri Railroad Company, to run from Davenportmarker to Council Bluffsmarker, and on November 20, 1855, the first train to operate in Iowa steamed from Davenport to Muscatinemarker. The Mississippi river bridge between Rock Island and Davenport was completed on April 22, 1856.

In 1857, Abraham Lincoln represented the Rock Island in an important lawsuit regarding bridges over navigable rivers. The suit had been brought by the owner of a steamboat which was destroyed by fire after running into the Mississippi river bridge. Lincoln argued that not only was the steamboat at fault in striking the bridge but that bridges across navigable rivers were to the advantage of the country.

M&M was acquired by the C&RI on July 9, 1866, to form the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Company. The railroad expanded through construction and acquisitions in the following decades.


The Rock Island stretched across Arkansasmarker, Coloradomarker, Illinoismarker, Iowamarker, Kansasmarker, Missourimarker, Nebraskamarker, New Mexicomarker, Oklahomamarker, South Dakotamarker and Texasmarker. The easternmost reach of the system was Chicagomarker, and the system also reached Memphis, Tennesseemarker; west, it reached Denver, Coloradomarker, and Santa Rosa, New Mexicomarker. Southernmost reaches were to Galveston, Texasmarker, and Eunice, Louisianamarker while in a northerly direction the Rock Island got as far as Minneapolis, Minnesotamarker.Major lines included Minneapolis to Kansas City, Missourimarker, via Des Moines, Iowamarker; St. Louis, Missourimarker Meta, Missourimarker, to Santa Rosa via Kansas City; Herington, Kansasmarker, to Galveston, Texasmarker, via Fort Worth, Texasmarker, and Dallas, Texasmarker; and Santa Rosa to Memphis. The heaviest traffic was on the Chicago-to-Rock Island and Rock Island-to-Muscatine lines.

Passenger train service

The Rock Island jointly operated the Golden State Limited (Chicago—Kansas City—Tucumcari—El Paso—Los Angeles) with the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) from 1902–1968. The name was shortened to the Golden State after 1948's modernization. Another joint venture with the SP, the Golden Rocket, was planned to enter service in 1948 but instead became "the train that never was," after SP withdrew from the joint train operating agreement. The Golden Rocket's uniquely-colored livery was placed in Golden State service instead.

In 1937, the Rock Island introduced Diesel power to its passenger service, with the purchase of six lightweight Rocket streamliners.

The railroad operated a number of trains known as Rockets serving the Midwest, including the Rocky Mountain Rocket (Chicago—Omaha—Lincoln—Denver—Colorado Springs), the Corn Belt Rocket (Chicago—Des Moines—Omaha), the Twin Star Rocket (Minneapolis—St. Paul—Des Moines—Kansas City—Oklahoma City—Fort Worth—Dallas—Houston), the Zephyr Rocket (Minneapolis—St. Paul—Burlington—St. Louis) and the Choctaw Rocket (Memphis—Little Rock—Oklahoma City—Amarillo—Tucumcari).

The Rock Island did not join Amtrak on its formation in 1971, and continued to operate its own passenger trains. After concluding that the cost of joining would be the same as operating the two remaining intercity roundtrips (the Chicago-Peoria Peoria Rocket and the Chicago-Rock Island Quad Cities Rocket), the railroad decided to "perform a public service for the state of Illinois" and continue intercity passenger operations. Both trains were discontinued on December 31, 1978.

The Rock Island also operated an extensive commuter train service in the Chicago area. The primary route ran from LaSalle Street Stationmarker to Joliet along the main line, and a spur line, known as the "suburban branch" to Blue Island. These services started to receive financial backing in 1976 from the newly formed Regional Transportation Authority. Today these lines are operated as part of Metra, and are known as the Rock Island District.

Rock Island's Demise

In 1964, the Rock Island selected Union Pacific to pursue a merger plan to form one large railroad. In the process, Rock Island fell victim to the most complicated merger in the history of the Interstate Commerce Commission. After more than ten years of studies and court hearings, Union Pacific came to an agreement with Rock Island, subject to many other terms and conditions. However, due to Rock Island paying for the studies, and court related orders, track conditions were in disrepair and in bad condition as the railway's funds and money were going to the merger case, rather than maintaining the trackage. After Union Pacific came to the realization of this, they backed out of their merger plans.

On March 17, 1975, Rock Island entered its third and final bankruptcy. William M. Gibbons was selected as receiver and trustee by Judge Frank J. McGarr, whom Gibbons practiced law with in the early 1960s. In August 1979, the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks (BRAC) walked out on a strike against Rock Island in a dispute over retroactive wages. When no resolution of the strike seemed possible, the ICC ordered the Kansas City Terminal Railway to take over all operations in September 1979. Rock Island president John W. Ingram resigned, and Gibbons took over as president of the bankrupt railroad.

On January 24, 1980, Judge McGarr was selected to hear the Rock Island bankruptcy case and ruled that the Rock Island could not be successfully reorganized and ordered it to be liquidated and sold; the resulting action made the Rock Island the largest bankruptcy liquidation in U.S. history up until that time.

Kansas City Terminal began the process of embargoing in-bound shipments in late February, and the final train operated March 31. The railroad's locomotives, rail cars, and tracks were sold, or dismantled and sold. Gibbons was able to raise $500 million in the liquidation, paying off all the railroads creditors and debts with interest. Gibbons was released from the Rock Island on June 1, 1984 after all the Rock Island's locomotives, rail cars, tracks, and remaining physical plant was sold, or abandoned. Rock Island's holding company, the Chicago Pacific Corporation, continued on as its railroad/transportation subsidiary was liquidated. Chicago Pacific was purchased by Maytag in 1985.

The former Rock Island mainline from Chicago to Omaha was purchased by the newly formed Iowa Interstate Railroad.
The "Rock Island" logo (1852-1974)

Company officers

Presidents of the Rock Island Railroad included:

In popular culture

  • An old folk song called "Rock Island Line", made famous by blues legend Leadbelly, memorializes the railroad.

See also


  1. Rock Island Trail (1950)

External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address