Rock Island: Spin-Offs

Iowa Northern 678, which wears a Rock Island-inspired paint scheme, powers the "Hawkeye Special" through Iowa City on 1 September 2014. (Jeff Carlson photo)


Chicago Rock Island & Pacific railroad had been an important part of the railroad network and societal fabric of midwestern/southwestern America for 135 years. The demise of the 7500-mile railroad in early 1980 left an emptiness that was felt by many people in and outside the transportation industry. In-spite of the granger road's demise, traffic volume on several old RI routes remained steady, with the most notable change being maroon-colored diesels being replaced by Uncle Pete's armour yellow and harbor mist grey,

On a more positive note, the void created by the Rock's disappearance led gradually to the rise of one or two short line / terminal operators in many of the states/communities once served by the Rock. Several of those operations are highlighted in this short photo essay, thanks to the assistance of numerous photographers.

Part 1 of the Rock Island photo essay is available here

* * * Short Line & Terminal Spin-offs * * *

Little Rock (Arkansas): 1980

CRIP 830 at Biddle Yard on 25 February

(Paul DeLuca photo)

Little Rock (Arkansas): 2020

LRW 2152 on 24 October 2020,

(Jamie Swain photo)

Denver (Colorado): 1974

Rock Island 231 on 24 February

(Deane Motis photo)

Denver (Colorado): 2020

Dener Rock Island #1083 on 8 April.

(Patrick Phelan photo)

Peoria (Illinois): 1972

CRIP 630 with Railfan excursion in September 1972

(Kevin Cavanaugh photo)

Peoria (Illinois): 2021

Illinois Midland #43 on 29 June passes Peoria RI station

(IAISrailfan photo )

Keokuk (lowa) 1969

RI 529 works in the rain at CB&Q station on 12 October

(Joe McMillan photo)

Keokuk (lowa) 2019

Burlington Junction #701 on June 10

(Landon Powell photo)

Des Moines (lowa) 1970

CRIP 389 at Short Line Jct on January 13

(Chuck Zeiler photo)

Des Moines (lowa) 2019

IAIS 502 approaches Short Line Jct 8 August

(Scooter Hovanec photo)

Wellington (Kansas): xxxx

CRIP 4455 on 20 March

(Keel Middleton collection)

Limon Wellington (Kansas): 2016

Blackwell Northern's leased NIWX SD18 on 26 March

(Keel Middleton photo)

Phillipsburg (Kansas): 1965

CRIP #371 on 28 August

(Chuck Zeiler photo)

Phillipsburg (Kansas): 2016

GWI's Kyle #3098 Northern's leased NIWX SD20 on 16 May

(M.J. Scanlon photo)

St. Paul (Minnesota): 1974

GP18 1347 leads U-Boats thru Westminster on 25 August.

(Ralph Back photo)

St. Paul (Minnesota): 2019

Forty years later, Westminster still sees lots of action.

(Don Kalkman photo)

Howe (Oklahoma): 1977

CRIP 4334 with a mixed manifest approaches the KCS diamond on May 6.

(Daniel Schroeder photo)

Howe (Oklahoma): 2021

The old diamond is gone, but trains still meet and interchange.

(Kenneth G. Williamson photo)

Union Missouri (looking West)

Union Missouri (looking East)

Above two photos: Rock Island's Kansas-Missouri sub-division (KC-St.Louis) used to see a good share of Rock and Cotton Belt traffic during the mid-1960s and 1970s. As part of the 1980 RI liquidation, Espee took title to the line; the move was primarily to prevent the KC/St. Louis link falling in to the hands of ATSF. These 2009 photos at Union, MO show how mother nature was working to reclaim the right-of-way. The rails were removed in 2016. (Jonathan Spurlock photos)


  • ATSF - Atchison Topeka Santa Fe
  • AWVR - Allegheny & West Virginia Railroad
  • CPR - Canadian Pacific Railroad
  • D&RGW - Denver & Ro Grande Western
  • GM&O - Gulf Mobile & Ohio
  • N&W - Norfolk & Western
  • NH - New Haven
  • SP - Southern Pacific
  • W&LE - Wheeling & :ale Eri

Sources: MyRailfan.Com (Tom Habak); Michael Richmond, RR Picture Arhives; and Ed Weisensel

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

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