Rocky Mountain Rocket
|Rocky Mountain Rocket route|
The Rocky Mountain Rocket was a streamlined passenger train of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. Rock Island's train numbers 7 and 8 ran from Chicago's LaSalle Street Station to Denver's Union Station and Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Rocky Mountain Rocket ran from 1939 to 1966; the train was discontinued prior to the creation of Amtrak in 1971.
In 1942 the Rocky Mountain Rocket ran on a 19.5 hour schedule from Denver to Chicago. An extra quarter-hour was required for the Colorado Springs Section. At Limon, Colorado the Rocky Mountain Rocket was split on its westbound run. The bulk of the train would head northwest to Denver on the Union Pacific's Main Line to Denver, while the rest of the train would head southwest on Rock Island tracks to Colorado Springs. Eastbound, the Rocky Mountain Rocket was combined at Limon for the remainder of its trip to Chicago. A similar split was made in Belleville, Kansas. The eastbound train was split with a section continuing to Union Station, Kansas City, Missouri, while the remainder continued on to Chicago.
Competition and demise
The Rocky Mountain Rocket faced steep competition from a number of sources. Rock Island's primary competition came from the Missouri Pacific's Colorado Eagle, Union Pacific's City of St. Louis, The Union Pacific and Chicago and North Western's City of Denver, and Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy's Denver Zephyr. The Denver Zephyr was the Rocky Mountain Rocket's top competitor where the Burlington Route maintained a much higher market share between Chicago and Denver than the Rock Island. The Rock Island maintained much of its popularity through its Colorado Springs section, which was the only Colorado Springs to Chicago train. All other options required one or more changes at various locations.
Facing steep competition from airlines and a loss of local traffic to interstates, the Rocky Mountain Rocket lost its sleeping and dining cars in July 1965. Snack cars were added to replace the diners and remained in service until the train was discontinued 15 months later. The last train ran on October 16, 1966.
- Rock Island Rockets (1937), for the original equipment used on this train.
- The Official Guide of the Railways and Steam Navigation Lines, October 1942, Published by the National Railway Publication Co., New York, NY.
- Rock Island In Color 1948-1964 Stagner, Lloyd E. Edison, NJ: Morning Sun Books. 1994.
- Rock Island Technical Society Web Resources
- Rock Mountain Rocket Train Consists
- Timetable Treasury. New York: Wayner Publications. 1979. p. 81.