• Peoria Rocket and Quad Cities Rocket

  • Discussion relating to The Chicago & North Western, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad (Milwaukee Road), including mergers, acquisitions, and abandonments.
Discussion relating to The Chicago & North Western, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad (Milwaukee Road), including mergers, acquisitions, and abandonments.

Moderator: Komachi

  by peconicstation
As you probally know the Rock Island was one the railroads that opted out of Amtrak, and it continued to operate it's own "inter-city" trains.
In the case of The Rock, it's trains where the Peoria and Quad Cities Rockets. As these trains entered their final years they were usually made up of 2 to 4 coaches with snack and drink service.
These oft overlooked trains came off in 1978.

In the immediate period after Amtraks inception, where these trains more elaborate?. I ask this as a poster on an Amtrak thread referred to these trains as having full dining service and a dome car on the Quad Cities, again, during the 70's. Was this the case with these 2 trains?



  by TB Diamond
Photographed both trains in 1974 and 1975. A dome car and what may be a diner (extra stacks or vents on the roof) plus two coaches appear on train #6 in October, 1974. No. 12, taken on the same morning, had what again appears to be a diner and two coaches.

  by Tadman
Rough recollection of second hand info, but around 1971 there was a privately operated dome called Big Ben. There was also full dining service, as the diner crew was protected by a contract and would get paid regardless of operation. Toward the end the railroad was flat broke, and the service deteriorated as trains could't be maintained. The dome was quit, the diner was left on a side track in LaSalle street and operated as a stationary restaurant, and eventually someone let the Rock quit the passenger business. At a similar time, CNW was directed to operate the Rock's commuter operation as it was in bad shape as well. However, the commuter operation had the most eclectic group of equipment, the LD trains were mostly operated with bright red E's, and a group volunteered to paint a bicentennial E8 because the Rock didn't have the money to paint anything.

  by CarterB
I beleive the Dome car was privately owned/operated by Butterworth Tours out of Davenport IA?

"Originally built by Budd as Chesapeake and Ohio's 1875 in 1948. The car was sold to the Denver & Rio Grande Western a year later, where it was converted to be a mid-train dome car, DRGW 1248. This basically involved butchering up the rounded end to have a door and diaphram that could connect to following cars. After that, it was regularly assigned to the DRGW's Royal Gorge passenger trains (trains 1 & 2). It was sold to Butterworth Tours' owner Bill Butterworth in 1970, and was in special service on the real Rock Island Quad City Rocket for several years."
  by NebraskaZephyr
In the early 1970s, both Rockets operated with coaches ("chair cars" in the timetable), a diner and a parlor-lounge.

The parlor car service on the Quad City Rocket (#5/6) was provided by Butterworth Tours, using the dome-obs BIG BEN, while RI provided the parlor car on #11/#12.

My folks took my sister and I from LaSalle-Peru to Chicago and return on the Peoria Rocket in July 1972 to visit the Museum Of Science And Industry. I used some of the money I earned mowing the neighbor's lawn to "splurge" for parlor car seats for us. The seat charge was $1.00 per person, each way (still have the ticket stub!).

The RI parlor cars at the time were former Golden State obs-lounges GOLEN DIVAN and GOLDEN VISTA, rebuilt and sqaured off for midtrain service.

Later on (1973?), Butterworth brought in some of his other cars (the BONNIE B and ex-PRR obs THE REVELER) and his cars took over the first class service on the Peoria Rocket as well.

In 1975, when neither Butterworth Tours nor the Rock Island could pay their bills, the cars stopped running and that was that.

The diners ran a bit longer, again because the cooks and waiters were protected by contract and got paid whether the diners ran or not. This was also the reasoning behind TRACK ONE, the stationary diner restaurant in LaSalle Street Station.

The last two diners in service were 411 and 428, both ex-Golden State cars. They were externally virtually identical and had only slightly different interior layouts. Originally, 411 was a "Coffee Shop-Lounge" catering to coach passengers on the Golden State, while 428 was a full diner.

Eventually the diners were withdrawn from service due to the mechanical condition of the cars. 428 (the regular Peoria Rocket diner) developed a cracked center sill in late 1975 and was retired. The 411 continued on the Quad City Rocket until February 15, 1976.

That night, three friends and myself convinced our parents of the gravity of the situation, it being a school night not withstanding (we were all in high school). We got my dad to take us over to Ottawa and my friend Ed talked his dad into picking us up at Geneseo and the four of us boarded #5 and ate the last four dinners ever served on a Rock Island dining car.

Even then, there were still a couple of dining car employees that were protected on the payroll, so they set up shop in one end of one coach on each train, selling sandwiches, snacks and drinks. They put a board up over the backs of a couple of seats, threw a tablecloth over it and arranged their wares. A cooler full of ice on the floor was the refrigeration, and the coffee pot was as often as not plugged into a shaver outlet around the corner in the washroom.

And that was how things remained pretty much through to the end of passenger service on December 31, 1978.

Fortunately, S. Soho & Co. decided to import HO scale brass models of the appropriate Golden State cars (and an Chessie dome-obs for BIG BEN) some years back and I have managed to acquire enough of those to permit me to wallow in my own nostaligia in my basement :-D

Thanks for letting me ramble,



  by Tadman
Hey NZ, that's a great story about eating the last of the diner meals ever served!

I notice you're only a two-time poster - it seems you're well-educated on the chicago-area rail scene, people would welcome your comments and insight on some other boards as well - Metra, Amtrak, South Shore, CNW, UP, BNSF... There's plenty of chicago-related boards here at rr.net.