- The Blizzard and the Golden State by John Matrow
First time RTR author Matrow burnt some serious midnight oil developing the entire story of the snowbound Rocket. Back in 1957 after years of drought the Blizzard of '57 took the Midwest by storm. Fierce winds and heavy snow stalled railroad and auto traffic under multiple feet of snow. John starts the story in balmy southern California and moves east aboard the Golden State as it speeds right into the eye of the storm. Drawing from published accounts in the newspapers, the RI's archives, and interviews, John's story is the most complete account of this heroic episode in Rock Island history attempted yet. Photographic coverage is rich with views never seen before, taken on site and from the air. Maps, photography, and a compelling story make this a must read for any Rock Island historian or fan. First-person accounts from passengers on the train are the icing on the cake. Associate Editor Pete Hedgpeth offers his account of the storm that came between him and a home cooked birthday supper. This is one article not to be missed.
- Callin-on Order for the Plainsman by Mike Armstrong
First time RTR author Armstrong recounts the actions of the agent at Nevada, Iowa, that had him thinking years later as he worked on the railroad himself. Learn about the intricacies of train order signaling in his article "Calling-ON Order for the Plainsman." Mike illustrates his story with his own prototype photos, and model photography shot on his layout. Timetables and excerpts from the Uniform Code of Operating Rules add the depth required to clarify just what he witnessed as a kid years prior.
- Valley Junction, Iowa by Stephen Eudy
OK you're from Iowa, and you know all about the Rock Island? Well gang, I'm gonna bait the hook with Valley Junction, a major town on the Rock Island until 1937. Betcha you never saw it, let alone photographed it. Well, the railroad built a large shop complex there in the 1890s and kept the place hoppin' until new shops were built at Short Line Junction in the late thirties. Eudy has been collecting photos, paper, and postcards on this town for years. He's authored a comprehensive article on the life and times of the railroad town that became West Des Moines. Rare streetcar photography, and postcards, all carefully photo edited by RTR's Art Director Tanya Anderson, ensures that you see all the detail in these amazing views during 40 years of keeping the shops open at VJ. Lots of steam, and smoke in this article gang!
- Ready to Run Review: Athearns' HO Scale Bi-Level Auto Rack Car by Robert Massey
This takes a close up look at Athern's HO-Scale Bi-Level auto racks. We include a RI Diagram Sheet and some killer photography from our Basement Archivist Paul Hunnell's collection. If you like old pick-ups you must see this one. Bob's review includes a comprehensive history and his take on this finely detailed model.
- Me and Big Bird by Richard R. Gill
So what happened at the 302.6 marker along the Illinois Division in 1960 that Senior Editor Dick Gill witnessed and nary a railfan pal believed? Was it the phantom connection to the Golden State? Holy Car Knockers, Batdispatcher it happened and Dick got his mitts on the paperwork to prove it. So take a gander at what happened in Grinnell, along with a Mark Robinson original cartoon depicting the event on page 56.
- Out of Limon by Richard R. Gill
Dennis Opferman's article Qualifying on the Rocket" inspired Dick Gill to dig out his photos and notes from his own Limon (Colorado) adventure in 1966. He's included the story of an old family friend who was a Rock Island conductor. Within the pages of this photo essay is the story of Lucius "Lute" Dugan, and how his job aboard the Rocky Mountain Rocket impacted family life and ultimately where they lived. Lots of cool snaps of the motive power swap out that went on every day at Limon.
- Classic Rock
Stephen Eudy: Postcard Mysteries. RTR Contributing Archivist Stephen Eudy plowed his collection for some postcards to share. Submitted for your consideration are a grouping of views from Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska with comprehensive captions researched by the Editors and Publisher.
Dan Tracy: Come on Kid... Follow Me! Returning RTR author Dan Tracy tells a great story illustrated by his own photography of a day that started off on the platform at Joliet and ended up with views of UD tower taken from a catbird seat. "Come on, kid...Follow me!" is a first hand account of something that doesn't happen too often. A good story with pictures!
Larry Green: Pueblo (Colorado) Revisted. You remember Dennis Opferman's article about the Rock's ambitions south of Colorado Springs from the last issue of RTR? First time RTR author Larry Green shared a beautiful map of Pueblo, Colorado found in a collection out west. This map unrolls out large enough to cover a big dining room table. Larry took great pains to have it scanned so the readers of RTR could see just what facilities the Rock Island shared with the D&RG, Missouri Pacific and Santa Fe. Larry's story includes a description of how Rock Island crews switched the yard, as well as zoomed in version of the map with appropriate keys for all of the yard locations illustrated. This was a big place with a lot of action in the 1900s.
Mark Kimball: Road Trip Adventures. So what do you get when a young man falls in love with trains and a camera? Photos, lots of them. Mark Kimball was smitten in high school, and did he ever take pictures! Lincoln, Omaha, Topeka, Council Bluffs and Kansas City were just a few of the places he and his pals hit during their "Road Trip Adventures" in the mid sixties. Marks slides captured everything from brandy new U Boats to E-6s. Associate Editor Bill Pollard figured out what Mark saw in the viewfinder; see if you agree with his educated guesses.
- The Rock Island Modeler: RI boxcars Nos. 147750-148549 by Ross Dando
We all know of the Ship Rocket Freight scheme that boxcars wore in the late fifties and sixties, emblazoned on the sides with that cool Rocket Freight speed lettering. Diesel locomotives wore the RF logo too. But did you know that inside a series of those boxcars were loads of Chevrolet V-8s and six cylinder engines? During the research phase of RTR author Ross Dando's article we found that the cars Ross were modeling in Proto:48 were used in t captive service to Chevy's Flint (Michigan) engine assembly plant. The motors might have gone into Mother's Impala grocery getter, or dad's 2-door Nova, or maybe even Junior's new Corvette. Ross takes a brass model and creates a vision of weathered loveliness that just jumps out of the photos. This fine scale model is seriously easy on the eyes. His weathering techniques are carefully detailed and ready for a nice slow read so you can undertake this nice piece of business in your own shop. Don't read 'em and weep, gang. Read this and learn how!!
- Rocket RPO
The issue finishes up with four-pages of mail in the RPO department and some choice photography on the rear cover... 80 pages of Rock Island reading pleasure.