Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad
|Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad|
Rock Island system map, circa 1965
|Dates of operation||1852–1980|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)|
|Length||8,158 miles (13,129 kilometres)|
The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad (reporting marks RI, ROCK) was a former Class I railroad in the midwestern United States. Rarely referred to by its full name, the railroad was commonly known as the "Rock Island." Its 1980 abandonment ranks as the longest and most complicated one in railroad history.
19th century 
In 1847 the Rock Island & La Salle Railroad Company was chartered to build between Rock Island, Illinois, on the Mississippi River, and La Salle, where connections would be made with the Illinois and Michigan Canal to Chicago. Contractor Henry Farnam persuaded the organizers to extend the railroad as far as Chicago to connect with other railroads. The charter was so amended, and the railroad was renamed the Chicago & Rock Island (C&RI). Construction began on October 1851. The first train ran southwest from Chicago to Joliet, 40 miles (64 kilometres), on October 10, 1852. Its power was a 4-4-0 named Rocket.
The line was opened to Rock Island on February 22, 1854, and the contractors turned the line over to the corporation in July of that year. By then the railroad had an agreement with the Northern Indiana Railroad (later part of the New York Central Railroad) for joint terminal facilities in Chicago; a branch from Bureau, Illinois, south to Peoria was nearly complete (it was opened in November 1854); and the Mississippi & Missouri Railroad (M&M) had been chartered in Iowa to build a railroad from Davenport, across the Mississippi River from Rock Island, to Council Bluffs, with branches south through Muscatine and north through Cedar Rapids.
Money to finance construction of the M&M was hard to come by. Both Iowa City, then the state capital, and Muscatine wanted the railroad first. Iowa City offered a bonus if a train arrived by midnight, December 31, 1855. Muscatine got its railroad first, on November 20, 1855, but a frozen locomotive was pushed over hastily laid and barely spiked rails into Iowa City as church bells rang in the New Year, securing the bonus and providing the perfect scenario for a multitude of grade-B novels and movies.
A bridge across the Mississippi was necessary to connect the C&RI and M&M railroads. The Mississippi had not yet been spanned, and the immediate reaction to the proposed railroad bridge was that it would be a hazard to navigation. However, the bridge was built, and it was officially opened on April 21, 1856. On the evening on May the steamboat Effie Afton, which usually plied the New Orleans-Louisville run, cleared the open draw span and then veered aside, turned around, rammed one of the piers, then suddenly and suspiciously burst into flames. The case of the bridge soon became one of railroad advocates versus steamboat advocates. The latter felt that even a single bridge would set an unfortunate precedent and soon there would be bridges every 40 or 50 miles along the length of the river. The railroad's case, argued by Abraham Lincoln, stated that 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 case went one way and the other is successive courts, but in 1866 the U.S. Supreme Court held for the railroad. Several other railroads immediately applied to bridge the Mississippi at other locations.
The M&M, far behind its construction schedule, was sold to the newly incorporated Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad on July 9, 1866. On August 20 that company consolidated with the C&RI to form a successor Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad. The line reached Des Moines a year later and arrived at Council Bluffs on May 11, 1869 — one day after completion of the Union Pacific (UP) and Central Pacific railroads from Council Bluffs to the West Coast. The Rock Island was not the first railroad into Council Bluffs; the Cedar Rapids & Missouri River Railroad (later part of the Chicago and North Western Railway [C&NW]) had reached there more than two years earlier and established ties with UP.
In the 1870s the Rock Island extended its Muscatine line southwest across Iowa and northwestern Missouri to Leavenworth, Kansas, and later negotiated trackage rights over the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad from Cameron, Missouri to Kansas City. Also during the 1870s, the railroad acquired several "firsts" — the first dining cars and Jesse James's first train holdup. The 1880s saw some corporate simplification, the acquisition of the Keokuk & Des Moines Railroad and the St. Joseph & Iowa Railroad, and control of the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railway (BCR&N), which had a line from Burlington, Iowa, through Cedar Rapids and Cedar Falls to Plymouth, near Mason City, with a branch through Iowa Falls and Estherville to Watertown, South Dakota. The BCR&N later acquired lines west out of Davenport and Clinton, Iowa, and lines to Decorah, Iowa, Worthington, Minnesota, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
On December 5, 1883, the Rock Island made a tripartite agreement with UP and the Milwaukee Road for interchange of business at Omaha, Nebraska. The C&NW, which had been UP's preferred connection, quickly became a party to the agreement, as did the Wabash Railroad, St. Louis & Pacific (a predecessor of the Wabash). The Burlington and Missouri River Railroad in Nebraska (part of the BCR&N) protested the agreement. UP suddenly found itself in financial difficulties, and Rock Island decided to build its own extensions rather than rely on interchange traffic with UP. Two years later the Chicago, Kansas & Nebraska Railroad (CK&N) was chartered to build from St. Joseph and Atchison southwest across Kansas to Wichita, and another railroad of the same name was incorporated in Nebraska to build from the southeast tip of the state to Kearney. The two companies merged and were leased to the St. Joseph & Iowa Railroad, a subsidiary of the Rock Island. A charter was approved for the extension of the southwest line from Wichita to Galveston, Texas, and from Liberal, Kansas, to El Paso, Texas. By the end of 1887 rails reached to Caldwell, on the southern border of Kansas, and in February 1888 they reached Liberal. A year later the Rock Island had built west across northern Kansas and Colorado to Colorado Springs. Rock Island made arrangements to use Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad track north of Denver and south to Pueblo; in 1899 Rock Island began using UP tracks from Limon, Colorado, to Denver.
Rock Island's Chicago-Colorado route via St. Joseph was circuitous. To assemble a route through Omaha, the Rock Island constructed a line from Omaha to Lincoln and in 1890 traded McPherson-Hutchinson, Kansas trackage rights to UP for trackage rights on UP between Lincoln and Beatrice and use of UP's Missouri River bridge between Council Bluffs and Omaha. The Rock Island began Chicago-Colorado service via Omaha on August 16, 1891, and later built its own line west of Lincoln. Also in 1891, the Rock Island acquired the property of the CK&N. Subsidiary Chicago, Rock Island & Texas reached Fort Worth in 1893.
20th century 
In 1901, control of the Rock Island was taken over by the Reid-Moore syndicate: Daniel G. Reed, William H. Moore, his brother James H. Moore, and William Leeds, men who had put together the National Biscuit, Diamond Match, and American Can companies. The railroad continued to burgeon. It acquired the Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf Railroad, (CO&G) a line from Memphis, Tennessee, through Little Rock, Arkansas, and Oklahoma City to Elk City in western Oklahoma, and the 70 mi (110 km) St. Louis, Kansas City & Colorado Railroad. Expansion then continued at breathtaking speed:
- 1902 — lease of the BCR&N for 999 years, and extension of the southwestern line from Liberal to Santa Rosa, New Mexico, to connect with the El Paso & Northeastern Railway, a Southern Pacific Railroad predecessor (the new track included the second longest stretch of straight track in the U.S., nearly 72 miles (116 kilometres) between Guymon, Oklahoma and Dalhart, Texas;
- 1903 — Chicago, Rock Island & Gulf completed a line between Fort Worth and Dallas;
- 1904 — the CO&G was extended west to Amarillo, Texas, and the Kansas City-St. Louis line was opened;
- 1905 — the Rock Island began assembling and constructing a line south from Little Rock to Eunice, Louisiana, with the intent of reaching New Orleans; and
- 1906 — the Rock Island acquired a half interest in the Trinity & Brazos Valley Railway (Dallas-Houston-Galveston, later a Burlington-Rock Island Railroad) from the Colorado & Southern Railway
At the same time the controlling syndicate, which now included B. F. Yoakum, was busy acquiring control of the Chicago & Alton Railroad, the Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railroad, the Toledo, St. Louis & Western Railroad, and the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway (SLSF) through holding companies and exchanges of stock. By 1909, though, the interest due on SLSF bonds far exceeded dividends received on SLSF stock — none. B. F. Yoakum bought Rock Island's SLSF stock at a considerable loss to the Rock Island.
The Rock Island created a Twin Cities-Kansas City route in 1913 by leasing the St. Paul & Kansas City Short Line Railroad and building a line between Allerton and Carlisle, Iowa, several miles south of Des Moines. In 1914 red ink caused by debt interest appeared on Rock Island's ledgers, and on April 20, 1915, the railroad entered receivership. On June 22, 1917, Rock Island was out of receivership and back in the hands of its stockholders. Shortly afterward the United States Railroad Administration took over management for the duration of World War I.
New management took over in the 1920s and placed considerable emphasis on paying stock dividends to the detriment of maintaining the property. Edward N. Brown, chairman of the board of the SLSF, began to buy Rock Island stock with the thought of using dividends to bolster the SLSF's situation. Soon Brown was chairman of Rock Island's executive committee. In 1927, Rock Island declared a stock dividend of 5%; in 1928, 6% and in 1929, 7% — even though Rock Island's annual interest on its debt was nearly $14 million. In 1930 Brown began to secretly acquire SLSF stock for the Rock Island. Revenue dropped as the Great Depression deepened. Then Rock Island's territory was struck with wheat crop failures and the effects of the Dust Bowl. The Rock Island declared bankruptcy on June 7, 1933.
In the early 1950s, the Rock Island acquired some forty miles of the Wichita Falls and Southern Railroad, one of the Frank Kell and Joseph A. Kemp properties between Graham in Young County, Texas, and a point south of Breckenridge in Stephens County, Texas. This short line was operational until 1969, when it was abandoned.
Edward M. Durham, vice-president of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, took over as CEO in December 1935. He brought in John D. Farrington, general manager of the Fort Worth & Denver Railway, as operating officer in May 1936. Farrington started a scrap drive to finance a rail relay program and purchased ten diesel switchers and six diesel-powered Rocket streamliners. His program included line relocations between Davenport and Kansas City and a new bridge over the Cimarron River just east of Liberal, Kansas. The railroad turned a profit in 1941. Durhan retired in July 1942 and Farrington became CEO.
In competition with the Santa Fe Chiefs, 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 to 1968. The Rock Island did not concede to the Santa Fe’s dominance in the Chicago-Los Angeles travel market and re-equipped the train with new streamlined equipment in 1948. At the same time, the "Limited" was dropped from the train’s name and the train was thereafter known as the Golden State. The local run on this line was known as the Imperial.
The 1948 modernization of the Golden State occurred with some controversy. In 1947, both the Rock Island and Southern Pacific jointly advertised the coming of a new entry in the Chicago-Los Angeles travel market. The Golden Rocket was scheduled to closely match the Santa Fe’s transit time end-to-end and was to have its own dedicated train sets, one purchased by the Rock Island, the other by Southern Pacific. As the Rock Island’s set of streamlined passenger cars was being finished, the Southern Pacific abruptly withdrew its purchase. The Rock Island’s cars were delivered and would find their way into the Golden State’s fleet soon after delivery. The Golden State was the last first-class train on the Rock Island, retaining its dining and sleeping cars until 1968.
The Rock Island also competed with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad (Q) in the Chicago-Denver market. While the Q fielded its Zephyrs on the route, the Rock Island ran the Rocky Mountain Rocket. The train split at Limon, Colorado with half the train diverting to Colorado Springs, an operation known as "The Limon Shuffle". The Rock Island conceded nothing to its rival, even installing ABS signaling on the route west of Lincoln in an effort to maintain transit speed. The train was also re-equipped with streamlined equipment in 1948.
As the Rocky Mountain Rocket was downgraded, the route traveled by the train was shortened from the western terminal at Denver, first to Omaha, then to Council Bluffs and the train was renamed The Cornhusker. In 1970, the train was cut to a Chicago to Rock Island run, a run entirely within the confines of Illinois and finally renamed the Quad Cities Rocket.
Other trains operated by the Rock Island as part of its Rocket fleet included 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. The government assessed the entrance fee based upon passenger miles operated in 1970. After concluding that the cost of joining would be greater than operating the two remaining 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. To help manage the service, the Rock Island hired National Association of Railroad Passengers founder Anthony Haswell as Managing Director of Passenger Services.
The last two trains plied the Rock Island’s Illinois Division as the track quality declined from 1971 through 1977. The transit times that were once a fairly speedy 2½ hours in the 1950s had softened to a 4½ hour run by 1975. Despite this, the State of Illinois continued to subsidize the service to keep it running. The track program of 1978 helped with main line timekeeping, although the Rock Island’s management decreed that the two trains (down to two coaches and a beat-up EMD E8 for power, were not to delay freight traffic on the route. Eventually, with the trains frequently running with as many paying passengers as coaches in the train, the state withdrew the subsidy and the two trains made their final runs on December 31, 1978.
As the glory years of the Farrington era waned into the late 1950s, the Rock Island found itself once again faced with flat traffic, flat revenues and increasing costs. The property was still in decent shape and the Rock Island made an attractive bride for a rail suitor looking to expand the reach of their current system.
The Rock Island was known as "one railroad too many" in the plains states, basically serving the same territory as the Burlington, only over a longer route. The Midwest rail network had been built in the late 19th century to serve that era's traffic. The mechanization of grain hauling gave larger reach to large grain elevators, reducing the need for the tight web of track that crisscrossed the plains states such as Iowa. As for available overhead traffic, in 1958 there were no less than six Class I carriers serving as eastern connections for UP at Omaha all seeking a slice of the flood of western traffic that UP interchanged there. Under the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) revenue rules in place at the time, the Rock Island sought traffic from Omaha, yet preferred to keep the long haul to Denver, where interchange could be made with the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad (DRG&W), a connection to the Western Pacific for haulage to the west coast.
The only option for the Rock Island to grow revenues and absorb costs was to merge with another, perhaps more prosperous railroad. Overtures were made from fellow midwest granger line Chicago and North Western and granger turned transcon Milwaukee Road. Both of these never advanced much beyond the data gathering and initial study phases. In 1964, the Rock Island selected UP to pursue a merger plan to form one large "super" railroad stretching from Chicago to the West Coast.
Facing the loss of UP's traffic at the Omaha gateway, virtually every railroad directly and indirectly affected by this combination immediately filed protests asking that the transaction be denied. With these filings began the longest and most complicated merger case in ICC history. Faced with failing granger railroads and large Class I railroads seeking to expand, ICC Hearing Examiner Nathan Klitenic, presiding over the case, sought to balance the opposing forces and completely restructure the railroads of the United States west of the Mississippi River.
After ten years of hearings and tens of thousands of pages of testimony and exhibits produced, now-Administrative Law Judge Nathan Klitenic approved a plan for rail service throughout the west to be covered by four mega-systems: The Chicago-Omaha main would go to the Union Pacific. The Kansas City-Tucumcari Golden State Route would be sold to the Southern Pacific. The Memphis-Amarillo Choctaw Route would be sold to the Santa Fe Railway. The Rio Grande would have an option to purchase the Denver-Kansas City line.
The visionary plan would not be realized until the mega-mergers of the 1990s with the BNSF Railway and UP remaining as the two surviving major rail carriers west of the Mississippi. From the vantage point of the 1974 railroad industry, Klitenic's plan was viewed as an unmanageable and far too radical solution to both the granger railroad issue and the larger issue of the future of rail freight transportation in general.
During most of the ensuing merger process, Rock Island operated at a financial loss. In 1965, Rock Island would earn its last profit. With the merger with UP seemingly so close, the Rock Island cut expenses to conserve cash. Expenditures on track maintenance were cut, passenger service was reduced as fast as the ICC would allow, and locomotives received only basic maintenance to keep them running. Rock Island began to take on a ramshackle appearance and derailments occurred with increasing frequency. In an effort to prop up its future merger mate, UP asked the Rock Island to forsake the Denver gateway in favor of increased interchange at Omaha. The Rock Island refused this and the UP routed more Omaha traffic over C&NW.
By the time of the 1974 approval of the merger, Rock Island was in terrible shape. UP viewed the cost to bring the property back to viable operating condition to be prohibitive. The conditions attached to the agreement for both labor and operating concessions were also viewed as excessive. Rock Island hired a new president and CEO, John W. Ingram, a former Federal Railway Administration (FRA) official. Ingram quickly sought to improve efficiency and sought FRA loans for the rebuild of the line, but finances caught up with the Rock Island all too quickly. With only $300 of cash on hand, on March 17, 1975, Rock Island entered its third bankruptcy. On August 4, UP withdrew its merger offer.
William M. Gibbons was selected as receiver and trustee by Judge Frank J. McGarr, with whom Gibbons practiced law in the early 1960s. With its debts on hold, Rock Island charted a new course as a grain funnel from the mid-West to the port of Galveston, Texas. The Ingram administration estimated that the Rock Island could be rebuilt and re-equipped at a cost of $100 million and sought financing for the plan. Grain shuttles were one cost effective way to gain market share and help finance the plan internally.
Nevertheless, new and rebuilt locomotives arrived on the property in gleaming blue and white to replace some of the tired, filthy power. Track rebuild projects covered the system. Main lines that had seen little or no maintenance in years were pulled from the mud. Rail and tie replacement programs attacked the maintenance backlog. However, the FRA-backed loans that Ingram sought were thwarted by the lobbying efforts of competing railroads, who considered a healthy Rock Island as a threat. By 1978, main line track improved in quality. The Rock Island slowly inched towards a financial break-even point, despite the financial malaise that plagued the late 1970s.
Rock Island's clerks walked off their jobs on August 28, 1979, over a pay dispute, and United Transportation Union (UTU) members followed the next day. President Jimmy Carter issued an order September 20 creating an emergency board to settle the dispute. The UTU members then returned to their jobs, but members of the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks stayed off. Still more traffic flowed on the strikebound Rock Island. Seeing the trains rolling despite the strike and fearing a Florida East Coast strikebreaking situation, the unions appealed to the FRA and ICC for relief. Despite that Rock Island management had been able to move 80% of pre-strike tonnage, the ICC declared a transportation emergency stating that the Rock Island would not be able to move the 1979 grain harvest to market. On September 26 the Kansas City Terminal Railway (KCT) was ordered by the ICC to operate the railroad. KCT's owners plus DRG&W and SP began operating the Rock Island. On March 2, 1980, the ICC refused to extend its directed service order, and the Rock Island ceased operation March 31, 1980.
The railroad industry had never before seen an abandonment of the magnitude of Rock Island. Other railroads had been abandoned in their entirety, but they were companies like the sickly, 541-mile New York, Ontario & Western Railway in 1957, the 250-mile Fort Smith and Western Railway in 1939, which essentially went nowhere, or the 338-mile Colorado Midland Railway in 1918, which suffered from steep grades (and 1918 was ancient history in the railroad industry). The 7,000-mile Rock Island connected large cities like Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, Houston, and Kansas City. It had no major operating handicaps, like mountains. It had long routes, unlike the regional Reading Company or Central Railroad of New Jersey. Railroad historian George Drury commented that "industry reaction to the abandonment ranged from 'Someone has to take it over and run it' to 'Can I have the Kansas City-Minneapolis line?'"
When the dust began to settle it turned out that what was abandoned was the operating company and the financial structure, not the physical plant. Rock Island's locomotives, rail cars, equipment, tracks, and real estate were sold to other railroads or scrapped. Gibbons was able to raise more than $500 million in the liquidation, paying off all the railroad's creditors, bondholders and all other debts in full at face value with interest. Henry Crown was ultimately proven correct, as both he and other bondholders who had purchased Rock Island debt for cents on the dollar during the low ebb in prices did especially well.
Gibbons was released from the Rock Island on June 1, 1984 as the estate of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad expired. All assets had been sold, all debts had been paid, and the former railroad found itself with a large amount of cash. The name of the company was changed to Chicago Pacific Corporation to further distance itself from the defunct railroad and their first purchase was the Hoover appliance company. In 1988, the company would be acquired by the Maytag Corporation.
Ironically, through the mega mergers of the 1990s the Union Pacific railroad ultimately ended up owning and operating more of the Rock Island than it would have acquired in its attempted 1964 merger. The one line it currently does not own (or operate regularly, other than detours) is the Chicago-Omaha main line that drove it to merge with the Rock Island in the first place. This line is now owned by the Iowa Interstate Railroad.
Chicago commuter passenger train service 
The Rock Island also operated an extensive commuter train service in the Chicago area. The primary route ran from LaSalle Street Station to Joliet along the main line, and a spur line, known as the "Suburban Line" to Blue Island. The main line trains supplanted the long-distance services that did not stop at the numerous stations on that route. The Suburban Line served the Beverly Hills area of Chicago as a branch leaving the main line at Gresham and heading due west, paralleling the Baltimore and Ohio Chicago Terminal Railroad passenger line before turning south. The Suburban Line made stops every four blocks along the way before rejoining the Main Line at Western Avenue Junction in Blue Island.
From the 1920s on, the suburban services were operated using Pacific-type 4-6-2 locomotives and specially designed light-heavyweight coaches that, with their late 1920s build dates, became known as the “Capone” cars. The suburban service became well known in the diesel era, as the steam power was replaced, first with new EMD FP7’s and ALCO RS-3’s, with two Fairbanks-Morse units added later. In 1949, Pullman-built 2700-series cars arrived as the first air conditioned commuter cars on the line.
In the 1960s, the Rock Island tried to upgrade the suburban service with newer equipment at lower cost. Second-hand Aerotrains, while less than successful in intercity service, were purchased to provide further air conditioned accommodations that had proven popular with the 2700 series cars.
When the Milwaukee Road purchased new Budd Company stainless steel bi-level cars in 1961, the Rock Island elected to add to a subsequent order and took delivery of its first bi-level equipment in 1964. Power for these new cars was provided by orphaned passenger units: three EMD F7’s, an EMD E6, and the two EMD AB6’s. The power was rebuilt with head end power to provide heat, air conditioning, and lighting for the new cars. In 1970, another order, this time for Pullman-built bi-level cars arrived to further supplement the fleet. To provide the power for these cars, several former Union Pacific EMD E8 and EMD E9 diesels were rebuilt with head end power and added to the commuter pool.
The commuter service was not exempt from the general decline of the Rock Island through the 1970s. Over time, deferred maintenance took its toll on both track and rolling stock. On the Rock Island, the Capone cars were entering their sixth decade of service and the nearly 30-year-old 2700’s suffered from severe corrosion due to the steel used in their construction. LaSalle Street Station, the service’s downtown terminal, suffered from neglect and urban decay with the slab roof of the train shed literally falling apart, requiring its removal. By this time, the Rock Island could not afford to replace the clearly worn-out equipment.
In 1976, the entire Chicago commuter rail system began to receive financial support from the State of Illinois through the Regional Transportation Authority. Operating funds were disbursed to all commuter operators and the Rock Island was to be provided with new equipment to replace the tired 2700 series and Capone cars. New Budd bi-levels that were near copies of the 1961 Milwaukee Road cars arrived in 1978. New EMD F40PH units arrived in late 1977 and, in summer, 1978, briefly could be seen hauling Capone cars. The Rock Island’s commuter F and E units were relegated to freight service or the dead line.
With the 1980 end of the Rock Island, the Regional Transportation Authority purchased the suburban territory and remaining Rock Island commuter equipment from the estate. LaSalle Street Station was torn down and replaced with the Chicago Stock Exchange building with a small station for commuters retained one block south of the old station. The RTA gradually rebuilt the track and added more new equipment to the service, leaving the property in better shape than it was in the Rock Island’s heyday, albeit with less track. The Rock Island District, as the Rock Island’s suburban service is now known, now operates as part of Metra, the Chicago Commuter Rail agency.
Company officers 
Presidents of the Rock Island Railroad included:
- James W. Grant, November 27, 1850 - December 22, 1851.
- John Bloomfield Jervis, December 22, 1851 - December 1854.
- Henry Farnam, December 1854 - June 1863.
- Charles W. Durant, June 1863 - August 1866.
- John F. Tracy, August 1866 - April 14, 1877.
- Hugh Riddle, April 14, 1877 - June 6, 1883.
- Ransom Reed Cable, June 6, 1883 - June 1898.
- Warren G. Purdy, June 1898 - December 31, 1901.
- William Bateman Leeds, December 31, 1901 - March 26, 1904.
- Benjamin L. Winchell, March 26, 1904 - December 1909.
- Henry U. Mudge, December 1909 - April 20, 1915.
- Jacob McGavock Dickinson appointed receiver trustee during bankruptcy, April 20, 1915 - June 21, 1917.
- James E. Gorman, June 22, 1917 - June 7, 1933.
- Joseph B. Fleming, Frank Orren Lowden (until his death on March 20, 1943) and James E. Gorman (until his death on March 25, 1942) appointed receiver trustees during bankruptcy, June 7, 1933 - December 31, 1947. Aaron Colnon replaced Frank O. Lowden as receiver trustee on April 19, 1943.
- John Dow Farrington, January 1, 1948 - 1955.
- Downing B. Jenks, 1956-1961.
- R. Ellis Johnson, 1961-1964.
- Jervis Langdon, Jr., 1965-1970.
- William J. Dixon, 1970-1974.
- John W. Ingram, 1974 - January 1980.
- William M. Gibbons appointed receiver trustee during bankruptcy, March 17, 1975 - June 1, 1984.
Former Rock Island depot at Chillicothe, Illinois, now a railroad museum
Metra LaSalle Street Station
See also 
- El Comedor
- Grand Excursion
- Iowa Interstate Railroad
- Joseph E. Sheffield
- LaSalle Street Station
- RailsWest Railroad Museum
- Drury, George H. (1994). The Historical Guide to North American Railroads: Histories, Figures, and Features of more than 160 Railroads Abandoned or Merged since 1930. Waukesha, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing. pp. 87–93. ISBN 0-89024-072-8.
- Yard Clerical Manual. Rock Island Railroad. 1970. Retrieved September 27, 2007.
- Donald, David Herbert (1999). Lincoln. New York, N.Y.: Touchstone. p. 157. ISBN 0-684-82535-X.
- "H. Allen Anderson, "Wichita Falls and Southern Railroad"". tshaonline.org. Retrieved April 19, 2013.
- United Press International, "Rock Island Railroad Files For Bankruptcy", Playground Daily News, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, Tuesday 18 March 1975, Volume 30, Number 34, page 2.
- "A Brief Historical Overview of the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad: Postscript". Rock Island Technical Society. 1996. Archived from the original on March 17, 2008. Retrieved March 14, 2008.
- Beydler, John. "The Rock founders faced tragedy and travail before triumphing". The Railroad Comes to Town. Retrieved March 14, 2008.
- "Financial" (PDF). New York Times. June 4, 1866. Retrieved March 14, 2008.
- Wargin, Tom (June 2, 1999). "RITS: Today in History: 06/02". Retrieved March 14, 2008.[dead link]
- Hofsommer, Don L. (2005). Minneapolis and the Age of Railways. University of Minnesota Press. p. 101. ISBN 0-8166-4501-9.
- "In the railroad world: Mr. Riddle says he was not forced out" (PDF). New York Times. February 26, 1884. Retrieved March 14, 2008.
- Hannah, Leslie; Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo (2006). "Ownership and Control in the Twentieth Century: Ambiguous Trends in Marriage and Divorce" (PDF). p. 13. Retrieved March 14, 2008.
- "Lines on Labor". Railway Age 177 (13): 16. July 26 1976.
- "William M. GIBBONS, Trustee of Property of the Chicago, RockIsland & Pacific Railroad Company, Appellee,v.GRAVES CONSTRUCTION CO., INC., Appellant". United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit. - 727 F.2d 753. December 10, 1984. Retrieved March 14, 2008.
- "NATIONAL STEEL SERVICE CENTER, Appellee, v. William GIBBONS, Trustee of the Property of Chicago Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Company, Appellant-Movant". United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit. December 2, 1982. Retrieved March 14, 2008.
- "In the Matter of CHICAGO, ROCK ISLAND & PACIFIC RAILROAD COMPANY, Debtor. Appeal of BANKERS TRUST COMPANY, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. William M. GIBBONS, Trustee-Appellee". United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit. August 2, 1979. Retrieved March 14, 2008.
- Schafer, Mike (1996). Classic American Railroads. St. Paul, MN: MBI Publishing. p. 76. ISBN 0-7603-0239-1.
- Baird, Douglas G. (1982). "Bankruptcy Procedure and State-Created Rights: The Lessons of Gibbons and Marathon". The Supreme Court Review 1982: 25–47.
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