Rock Island 1966 Timetable

Consisting of twelve pages that are half the size of a regular timetable, this timetable uses the same amount of space as the 1961 condensed timetable. Not surprisingly, however, several trains are missing, mostly in the form of reduced frequencies.

Click image to download a 4.1-MB PDF of this timetable.

Perhaps the biggest gap is trains 39 & 40. Once called the Imperial but unnamed and down to coaches only–no food-service cars–in the 1961 timetable, these were the secondary trains on the Chicago-Los Angeles Golden State route. But with this timetable they only went between Kansas City and Los Angeles, and Chicago passengers had to change trains at Kansas City and Davenport, Iowa. Continue reading

Rock Island 1961 Condensed Timetable

The 1961 condensed timetable is only three-fourths as large as the 1957 edition. All of Rock Island’s train schedules (except Chicago commuter trains) fit on three 4″-by-9″ panels, whereas it took seven in 1957.

Click image to download a 2.1-MB PDF of this timetable.

The only 1957 route that was no longer served in 1961 was Kansas City-Goodland. But frequencies were reduced on numerous routes, including Chicago-Des Moines, Chicago-Peoria, Minneapolis-St. Louis, and Minneapolis-Dallas routes.

Rock Island 1957 Condensed Timetable

Rock Island’s 1957 system timetable was a respectable 20 pages long. But the condensed version fits into the equivalent of just four pages. One whole page shows Chicago-Colorado, with five trains a day to Peoria, four to Des Moines, two to Omaha, and one to Denver-Colorado Springs.

Click image to download a 2.7-MB PDF of this timetable.

Chicago-Los Angeles, which only had two trains a day, got two-thirds of a page, with the rest going to an expanded version of the five Chicago-Peoria trains. Memphis-Los Angeles and Minneapolis-Houston get a half page each, and Minneapolis-St. Louis shares a half page with Kansas City-Goodland Kansas. The last train theoretically could provide a connection for people from St. Louis to take the Rocky Mountain Rocket, but it doesn’t–instead, Rock Island left the St. Louis-Kansas City market to Missouri Pacific and the Wabash.

Fiesta Car Dinner Menu

Here’s the dinner menu Rock Island used at the 1948-1949 Chicago Rail Fair. Dinner was $3, or about $30 in today’s money.

Click image to download a 1.2-MB PDF of this menu.

The entrées included breast of guinea hen (the same hens that donated legs to the lunch menu?), beef mignon, chop grill, and braised veal. These came with soup or fruit cup, appetizer, lobster Newburg, potatoes and vegetables, salad, a choice of seven desserts, and beverage. I suspect this was a more elaborate meal than Rock Island planned to serve on the ill-fated Golden State Rocket.

Fiesta Car Lunch Menu

The Rock Island offered lunch and dinner at the Chicago Rail Fair in its replica 1880s diner and modern Golden State Rocket Fiesta diner. Despite the Southwest theme of Rock Island’s exhibit, this menu didn’t have a particularly Southwest flavor.

Click image to download a 1.2-MB PDF of this menu.

For $2–about $20 in today’s money–fair goers could get a lunch of brook trout, legs of guinea hen, tenderloin tips, or cold Virginia ham with appetizer, potatoes, vegetables, fruit salad, a choice of five desserts, and beverage. It isn’t clear whether this menu is from 1948 or 1949, but they probably used the same menu in both years.

Rock Island’s Rocket Village

At first glance, this brochure appears to be a guide to Rock Island’s exhibit at the 1949 Chicago Rail Fair. But actually only one fourth of the brochure is about that exhibit; the 1949 Rail Fair program actually said more about the exhibit–that it had a square dancing pavilion, Southwest-themed live music, a replica of an 1880s dining car as well as the Rock Island’s latest diner, and a movie theater–in one-quarter page than this entire brochure. Rock Island was one of several railroads at the fair that offered food services in their own diners.

Click image to download a 3.1-MB PDF of this brochure.

The rest of this brochure advertises the Rock Island railroad: passenger trains, freight trains, operations, scenic destinations, and the latest right-of-way improvements. The connection between rockets and the Southwest was made in a note that New Mexico is the location of the White Sands Proving Grounds where “scientists are experimenting with aerial rockets” even as Rock Island’s “Diesel-powered Rockets are a down-to-earth reality.”

Golden State Limited Dinner Menu

This menu is undated, but the fact that it is for the Golden State Limited tells us that it from before 1947, as the train’s name was changed to just Golden State in that year. The prices on the menu are too high for 1946, but are about right for 1935 to 1940, so I suspect it is from that era.

Click image to download a 1.4-MB PDF of this menu.

Rock Island and Southern Pacific had pretensions of the Golden State Limited competing against Union Pacific’s Los Angeles Limited and Santa Fe’s Chief, but the Golden State Limited was a distant runner-up to the other two trains. The Los Angeles Limited always had a sirloin steak dinner on the menu in addition to two or three other meat entrĂ©es and salmon or trout. This menu has veal and Lake Superior whitefish but no top-grade steak. The fact that the railroads kept the same menu cover for decades, even after changing the name of the train, indicates a lack of care or desire to keep up with the times.

Land of the Turquoise Sky: 1935

Whether because of the Depression or because Rock Island marketers wanted to simplify the printing process, this is a brochure rather than a booklet. Though that means less space–approximately the equivalent of 12 pages of the Under the Turquoise Sky booklets–it also means that multiple colors could be used on every panel at little extra cost.

Click image to download a 6.7-MB PDF of this brochure.

The fourteen photographs, many of which were used in previous Under the Turquoise Sky booklets, are still in black and white. However, these photos are supplemented by many color illustrations showing people horseback riding, hiking, fishing, camping, golfing, and other recreational activities. Similar color graphics show the interiors of the Rocky Mountain Limited or another Rock Island train. The use of bright, primary colors rather than the dull colors often found in lithographs accompanying railroad ads of the era underscores the theme that Colorado is a bright, exciting place.

Under the Turquoise Sky: 1930

As noted in the description of the 1928 edition of this booklet, Rock Island’s Colorado booklet has morphed over the years from one that is mostly text with some small photos to one that is mostly full-page photos with some text. In fact, not counting the title page or the page listing Rock Island agents, this edition only has nine pages of text, all of which also have at least one photo or a map, while it has 26 pages of photos with no text other than brief captions.

Click image to download a 25.0-MB PDF of this 40-page booklet.

Some of the places depicted in these photos are as remote today as they were in 1930. In fact, I suspect that many native Coloradans have only seen of few of these spectacular locations.

Under the Turquoise Sky: 1921

Except for a couple of pages at the back, just about every page of this booklet has a photo. Yet due to smaller type and narrower margins, a typical page of this booklet with a photo has more words than a page of solid text in yesterday’s 1903 edition. Still, with half the number of interior pages, something had to have been left out.

Click image to download a 12.3-MB PDF of this 36-page booklet.

A map in the back highlights Rock Island routes from Chicago and St. Louis to Denver and Colorado Springs as well as from Memphis to Hot Springs, Arkansas. The text notes that the bathhouse in Manitou, Colorado is operated by the same management as one of the largest spas in Hot Springs, which is supposed to be an endorsement of some kind. People in the 1920s placed greater faith in the curative powers of hot springs than people today, who just see them as recreational pools.