|The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad (CRI&P RR) (AAR reporting marks RI) 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 or ROUTE ROCK. It's ancestor, the Rock Island and
La Salle Railroad Company, was incorporated in Illinois, on February 27, 1847. 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 Joliet. Construction continued on through La Salle and Rock Island Illinois was reached on
February 22, 1854, becoming the first railroad to connect Chicago with the Mississippi River.
On February 5th, 1853 the Chicago & Rock Island Railroad created the Mississippi and Missouri Railroad Company to run from
Davenport to Council Bluffs, Iowa. On November 20th, 1855, the first train operated on that specific route.
The Mississippi river bridge between Rock Island, Illinois and Davenport, Iowa 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. The Mississippi & Missouri Railroad was acquired by the Chicago & Rock Island on
July 9th, 1866 to form the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Company.
The Rock Island stretched across Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma
and Texas. The farthest east part of the system was Chicago, south to Memphis, Tennessee and Eunice, Louisiana west. It
reached Denver, Colorado, and Santa Rosa, New Mexico. Middle south reaches were Galveston, Texas. While in a northerly
direction the Rock Island got as far as Minneapolis, Minnesota. Major routes included Minneapolis, Minnesota to Kansas City,
Missouri,via Des Moines, Iowa; St. Louis, Missouri, to Santa Rosa, California via Kansas City; Herington, Kansas, to Galveston,
Texas, via Fort Worth, Texas, and Dallas, Texas; and Santa Rosa to Memphis. The heaviest traffic was on the
Chicago-to-Rock Island and Rock Island-to-Muscatine lines.
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
consist was placed in Golden State service instead. 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 round trips
(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.