The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad was born during the 1850s. From Chicago it reached west to Denver and New Mexico. With expansion it also reached Minneapolis, Memphis and Galveston, an 8,000 mile system operating in 14 States.
The Rock Island Technical Society hosts a history of the Rock Island here.
The Union Pacific Railroad won approval to acquire the CRI&P on November 8, 1974. The Rock Island had deteriorated during the preceding 10 year merger case, which resulted in Union Pacific cancelling the merger. This led the Board of Directors to file
for bankruptcy on March 17, 1975. Operations came to an end on March 31, 1980,
and the Trustee began selling The Rock in pieces.
The following list is a summary of Rock Island routes that remain in service, or have seen service since March 1980. I believe the railroad shut down owning 6,296 route miles, and also had 798 miles of trackage rights, resulting in a total mileage of 7,094. This summary shows 3,800 miles still in operation, or 61% of the final total. There has been a further 1,104 miles of track that have seen operation since March 1980,
but are silent now. This leaves 1,393 route miles that were not used after the CRI&P shutdown, including 170 miles across Missouri were the rails are still in place and a slim chance remains of reactivation. In addition to Rock Island rail lines still in operation, there are also 848 miles of other railroads still active where the CRI&P ran using trackage rights.
This three part summary begins with a list of the railroads that are currently running parts of the former Rock Island system. In the second part, I have broken the CRI&P into 8 geographic areas, and described their dispositions since 1980. The final part gives a list of Rock Island's locomotive fleet, and the present owners of the surviving units. If you have any corrections or suggestions to improve this summary, I would be glad to hear from you.
Railroads operating CRI&P trackage-
Union Pacific holds almost half of the existing Rock Island trackage (1,856 out of
3,800 miles), while BNSF, Iowa Interstate and the Kyle Railroad also operate
significant pieces. The rest is held by an assortment of 24 other railroads. There are
6 more railroads are operating lines which the CRI&P used through trackage rights.
Union Pacific Railroad 1,856 miles
When the Rock Island's lines became available, UP only acquired 37 miles, from Fairbury to the power plant at Hallam in Nebraska. Union Pacific also operated 42 miles in Kansas and Colorado on a temporary basis, trackage that is now part of the Kyle Railroad. Beginning in 1982, the railroad seemed to embark on a strategy of merger by proxy, swallowing other railroads that had acquired CRI&P routes on their own.
First up was the Missouri Pacific, holder of 99 miles of Rock Island trackage in Arkansas, 16 miles of which is still part of Union Pacific. This included the
Harahan Bridge over the Mississippi River at Memphis, which had been a joint MP, SSW and CRI&P property.
During 1988 UP merged the Missouri-Kansas-Texas, and it's subsidiary, the
Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. The OKT had 556 miles from the Rock Island in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Union Pacific now runs on 496 of these miles, from Herington to Fort Worth and Chickasha to Fort Sill.
MKT acquired 218 miles of the Choctaw line crossing Oklahoma, from Howe to
El Reno. All 218 miles went to Union Pacific when they merged the MKT during 1988. While the Arkansas Oklahoma Railroad now operates half of this trackage, Union Pacific has kept the 25 miles from Oklahoma City to El Reno.
When Union Pacific absorbed the Chicago and North Western during 1995, they added 681 miles which had belonged to the CRI&P. This included the Spine Line between the Twin Cities and Kansas City, as well as a network of branchlines in western Iowa. UP is still operating 603 of the route miles from this merger.
The year 1996 saw Union Pacific picking up the Golden State route when they acquired Southern Pacific and subsidiary St. Louis Southwestern. This transaction increased UP's former Rock Island mileage by 778, of which 670 miles are still part of the railroad.
Union Pacific now has the former Rock Island reaching from South St. Paul to Fort Worth and New Mexico. They already had their own lines reaching Denver from Omaha and Kansas City, while the merger of the Missouri Pacific added lines to St. Louis from Kansas City and Fort Worth to Houston. During 1989 Japonica Partners launched a hostile bid for the C&NW, causing UP to take out an option to buy the Iowa Interstate. Eventually UP decided acquiring the North Western made more sense than getting the IAIS and upgrading the line with CTC and double track.
UP also has another 295 miles that were used by the Rock Island through trackage rights.
BNSF Railway 217 miles
BNSF has 217 route miles that were a part of the CRI&P. This includes 214 miles between Dallas (Waxahachie) and Houston (Belt Jct) that were jointly owned by the Rock Island and the Burlington. As well, there are also 288 miles in the BNSF system that the Rock Island used through trackage rights.
Iowa Interstate 471 miles
Iowa Interstate is the second largest operator of existing Rock Island trackage,
running on the Chicago - Omaha mainline from Blue Island to Council Bluffs.
They own 389 miles of this line, along with another 82 miles in 5 branches to
Oakland, Harlan, Prairie City, Milan,IL and Peoria.
Kyle Railroad 342 miles
Kyle operators 342 miles in Kansas and Colorado, from Belleville to Limon.
They had previously run an additional 66 miles, to Mahaska and Clay Center.
Appanoose County Community Railroad 5 miles
The APNC has 5 miles that were part of the mainline between Chicago and Kansas City. It begins south of Centerville and reaches east to Moulton Jct.
Arkansas Midland 26 miles
Missouri Pacific purchased Rock Island trackage in central Arkansas which became part of Union Pacific. Two of these lines were sold by UP when the Arkansas Midland was created. One now runs 7 miles from North Little Rock east to Galloway,
while the other reaches 19 miles from Malvern to Hot Springs.
Arkansas Oklahoma Railroad 110 miles
The Arkansas-Oklahoma is presently operating two sections of the former
Choctaw line across Oklahoma, which had seen use by the Missouri-Kansas-Texas and Union Pacific. Their eastern segment runs 70 miles from Howe to McAlester, while the other segment runs 40 miles from Shawnee to Oklahoma City.
AT&L Railroad 48 miles Photos
Since 1985, the AT&L has running 31 miles from El Reno to Bridgeport, with a
branch 17 miles long from Geary north to Watonga, located in western Oklahoma.
Burlington Junction Railway 2 miles
Burlington Junction acquired the 2 mile line running north from Burlington to the
Case Plant in eastern Iowa during 1985.
Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway 8 miles
The CRandIC owns an 8 mile line in Iowa which stretches from Iowa City
south to Hills.
Central Illinois Railroad Company 8 miles
This railroad has an 8 mile former Rock Island line in Illinois which is known as the
Kellar Branch, running north from Peoria to Alta. It is owned by the cities of Peoria and Peoria Heights, which are trying to condemn the southern end of this line for a recreational trail.
Central Midland Railway 49 miles
Currently this railroad, recently purchased by Progressive Rail, runs 49 miles between St. Louis and Union.
Chicago Rail Link 12 miles
Chicago Rail Link operates 12 miles in the Calumet region of south Chicago.
From Gresham, these lines run east to South Chicago, and south to Deering
and Calumet Harbour.
CSX 56 miles
The mainline running west from Joliet across Illinois for 56 miles to Utica is now
operated by CSX.
Denver Rock Island Railroad 1 miles
The DRI uses 1 mile of the CRI&P in Denver from Belt Junction to here.
Farmrail 79 miles Photos
A 78 mile stretch of the CRI&P in western Oklahoma between Weatherford and Erick is currently operated by Farmrail. An additional mile is being operated to
reach an elevator in Lone Wolf.
Fordyce and Princeton 54 miles
The F&P has a former Rock Island line in southern Arkansas which reaches 54 miles
from Fordyce to Withrow Jct, and another 5 miles the CRI&P used with trackage rights to Crossett.
Iowa, Chicago and Eastern 63 miles
Regional railroad Iowa, Chicago and Eastern operate 62 miles of the CRI&P from
Nahant to Washington, in Iowa. The Milwaukee Road had purchased this portion of the Kansas City line to improve their own line to Kansas City.
Also operated is a 1 mile spur from Columbus Junction to this plant. IC&E also has
123 miles of the CMSP&P where the Rock Island ran on through trackage rights.
Iowa Northern Railway 120 miles
IANR runs on 120 miles from Cedar Rapids to Manly, which was part of the mainline linking Chicago with the Twin Cities through Iowa.
Iowa Northwestern 21 miles
The Iowa Northwestern has recently operated 21 miles between Superior and
Lake Park in northwestern Iowa. Traffic on this line is marginal, and is currently not operating.
Kansas City Southern 26 miles
In Louisiana, 26 miles from Hodge to Winnfield now belong to KCS. The Rock Island also had trackage rights on one mile of the railway's line in Kansas City.
Keokuk Junction Railway 4 miles
KJRY have 4 miles along the riverfront through Keokuk in southeast Iowa.
Little Rock and Western Railway 79 miles
The LR&W operate 79 miles of the Choctaw line in Arkansas,
from Pulaski to Danville.
Metra 47 miles
This Chicago area Commuter Railroad purchased the Rock Island running from
LaSalle Street Station to Joliet, and the Suburban Line from Gresham to
Blue Island, a total of 47 miles in Illinois.
Ouachita Railroad 26 miles
The Ouachita has been running the 26 miles from El Dorado to Lille, Louisiana
Texas North Western 20 miles Photos
TXNW originaly acquired 126 miles from Liberal, Kansas to Stinnett and Etter, Texas. They are now down to 20 miles between Etter and Capps.
Trinity Railway Express 34 miles
Commuter railroad TRE operates the 34 miles linking Fort Worth and Dallas.
Wichita, Tillman and Jackson Railway 16 miles
In Oklahoma, the WT&J operate 16 miles between Waurika and Temple,
on a line owned by the State.
Rock Island had trackage rights on these lines-
CP's former Milwaukee Road line carried Rock Island traffic on 45 miles in Minnesota, from South Minneapolis to Newport and Rosemount to Comus.
Kansas City Terminal
KCT was used for 9 miles in the Kansas City area, from Sheffield Jct in Missouri to Armourdale in Kansas.
Kaw River Railroad
KRR has a 16 mile former CB&Q line from Kearney to Birmingham in Missouri,
last used by the CRI&P in 1945.
In Louisiana, the 46 mile Kansas City Southern line between Winnfield and Alexandria is being operated by Louisiana Southern.
Tazewell and Peoria
Between Peoria and Pekin, the CRI&P used 10 miles of rights in Illinois on the
Peoria and Pekin Union Railway, which is now the T&P.
Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis
The CRI&P used 10 miles from Carrie Avenue Yard to Rock Island Jct in Missouri.