• Rock Island shutdown progression

  • 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 56-57
I'm curious, and wonder is someone could answer a few question I've got about the shutdown of the Rock Island.

How orderly was it? As in, how much home-road equipment was on the property on the 'last day', and how significant were the disruptions to customers?

Was there a period of time when really not a wheel turned on any part of the system?

How badly was Metra service out of LaSalle St effected?

How long did it take for the Directed Service orders to take effect on the lines which were fortunate enough to get them, and were crews being qualified on the routes in the last days of the RI, or were some of them really 'running blind' in the first days after service was restored?

Any insights or help here are greatly appreciated. This is just for my curiosity in trying to understand how such a large system can wind down and stop, and what that meant on the ground and along the rails.

  by Otto Vondrak
56-57 wrote:How badly was Metra service out of LaSalle St effected?
Not much, it sounds like:
The Rock Island District (RI) comprises the former operations of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific than run from LaSalle Street Station south to Joliet. When the Rock Island went bankrupt in 1980, Metra signed a contract with the C&NW to operate the line. There was some difficulty with C&NW, and they ended the contract in 1981, which forced Metra to purchase the line from the Rock Island bankruptcy estate in 1982."
The trackage is owned by Metra, bought from the bankrupt Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad for $35 million in December 1982. The Regional Transportation Authority had signed a contract with the Rock Island in 1976 to fund service, and in 1980 the Chicago and North Western Railway began operating the Rock Island District. In spring 1981 the C&NW stepped away, and the Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation (Metra) was formed to take over operations.
  by GN 599
A fellow engineer I work with from that moved out here from Nebraska said the trainmen just sat on there respective jobs waiting for a call to go to work that never came. He also said the day of the shutdown they came up to an interlocking and couldnt get ahold of the Rock dispatcher so they called our (BN) dispatcher. Our dispatcher said hold on I will make some phone calls. The dispatcher contacted them and said something to the effect of calling the Rock's chief disp phone number and getting a recorded message saying they were no longer in business. I dont know if its accurate information but its an interesting antecdote. He also said the BN hired a few Rock Island guys after shutdown. He was a brand new engineer and had former Rock guys as head brakemen (usually lowest seniority position on train crew) that had 30+ years seniority as engineers and such on the Rock Island. They were just trying to get their last few credited years in so they could retire.
  by 56-57
I hate to do this but I have to question the validity of 'not being able to reach the dispatcher'.. I do know it was a planned shutdown. Final dates were announced months ahead of time, and the ICC (or was it KCT?) issued orders basically saying 'the CRI&P will no longer operate as of this day'.. The last moves before the shutdown should have been either 1. getting revenue cars off the railroad, 2. moving home-road cars towards places like Silvis and El Reno.

Thanks for taking the time to reply though, it seems sorta quiet around this part of the forum..

  by GN 599
Yeah it was a good story but the BN dispatchers would have known the Rock was done. Kinda funny though, in the midwest the BN took in a lot of Rock guys and out west we got a lot of Milwaukee guys. As a matter of fact I have had the privelege of working with a few Milwaukee guys.
  by 57A26
Although the railroad shut down March 31, 1980, the RI estate ran clean up trains over trackage that wasn't being operated by other railroads. I know some in Iowa lasted into 1983 or 1984, moving equipment for disposition.

They even leased a couple of geeps that had once been owned by an eastern steel road after selling off most of their own fleet. Two engines, an ex-RI switch engine and one of the leased geeps used in these operations were painted blue and white with the red "rock Island" heralds, not the big "R" of the Rock era.

Although the RI's demise was well covered, some apparently didn't get the memo. A friend who had been the RI agent at Durant, IA and then stayed there while it was operated by the DRI&NW and then the MILW told me in about 1982 there were still occasional cars coming with waybill routings via Chicago-CRI&P to Durant. Just as if the RI was still operating. I asked him how the cars were handled at Chicago. He said they were just given to the MILW, who was then operating the trackage thru Durant. That line is now Iowa Interstate.