Route of the Rockets
Rock Island in the Streamlined Era
By Greg Stout.
Cloth with dust jacket, 175 pages, sharp b/w and color photos, drawings, charts, rosters. 1997.
"The streamlined era on the 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, the 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, the 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, the Rock Island died from causes that had been present almost from the day the first spike was driven: too many agricultural branches, overdependence on trackage rights, and a route map that seemed to reach every important terminal the long way around.
"Despite its many problems, however, the 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.