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Nostalgia & History > Where were you when the Rock shut down?


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Date: 03/31/10 07:36
Where were you when the Rock shut down?
Author: chico

Like a lot of TO members, I can remember where I was, what I was doing, when on this date in March 1980 the news broke that the Rock was done, and to be liquidated.

I was in KC, working at a radio station there, and remember the teletype AP story come over the wire, noting that KCT would be providing interim service though my area..

In relation to a story like the first moon shot, it wasn't THAT big of news.

But, to rails and railfans, it was a watershed day. My Rock exposure had been limited to what I was able to witness in the KC area, but years later living in the Quad Cities (Davenport/Rock Island) I found out just how much this line was ingrained in the fans & citizens.

Bottoms up!

chico
http://www.heartlandrails.com



Date: 03/31/10 07:41
Re: Where were you when the Rock shut down?
Author: njmidland

For about 3 years after the shutdown, the Rock maintained a small office in Chicago. Almost every time I went through Chicago I would stop in as they had a small memorabilia operation selling some interesting stuff like a booklet done for the centennial, employees timetables, pads, bumper stickers, and my favorite was a bunch of stuff from the Track One operation - flatware, tablecloths, and menus. When they got bought out to take advantage of their tax loss carry-forwards the office was promptly shut down.

Tim



Date: 03/31/10 07:51
Re: Where were you when the Rock shut down?
Author: BlackWidow

Was the decision to shut down the Rock on 3/31/80 made public on 3/31/80, or was there advance warning? I had always thought this date was known well before 3/31/80 as the last day of operations.



Date: 03/31/10 09:08
Re: Where were you when the Rock shut down?
Author: cota1992

I heard it on Paul Harvey- I was 9 at the time, and I remember my Grand Pa who was from the midwest was pretty upset. I didn't know much about it at the time other then some Tyco trains, in fact I thought Rock Island was somewhere on the east coast and had a island bridge somewhere on it-I have no idea where that though came from, but in my minds eye I saw RI trains along a stormy rocky coast with waves next to the tracks.
When I asked my grand father about this I got a blistering geography lesson which has stayed with me all my life and is why I remember it now.

Art Reid
Washington DC



Date: 03/31/10 09:11
Re: Where were you when the Rock shut down?
Author: erielackawanna

I was in Washington DC at the time, in my freshman dorm at George Washington University. I heard it on the radio, and I recall tht my camera was on the shelf above the radio and I thought, "Wow...I never got to shoot the Rock..."



Date: 03/31/10 09:16
Re: Where were you when the Rock shut down?
Author: GPutz

I was working my butt off in the Northern suburbs of Chicago. I didn't have any time for last minute images. I'm glad I got what I did. Gerry



Date: 03/31/10 09:32
Re: Where were you when the Rock shut down?
Author: railsouthrob

I was 10 years old and lived in Clinton, Ia. when it happened and remember watching the channel 4 news and the top story of that evening was the shutdown of the Rock Island. I missed out on alot of Rock Island action as I was to young to witness much of that railroad but do remember seeing some Rock island trains when we would go to the Quad Cities and remember seeing the huge yard in action at Silvis. The last Rock Island train I seen was in Davenport in November 1979.



Date: 03/31/10 10:23
Re: Where were you when the Rock shut down?
Author: NebraskaZephyr

I was 19 years old and the Rock Island was the across-the-street neighbor in the town I grew up in. Had spent many happy hours riding the local switch engine and making trips to Chicago on the remaining Rockets.

March 30 was the last night for third shift, and my good friend A.F. Niederer was going to work that final third trick as the operator at Bureau, IL (all the old heads were grabbing their vacations and paid leave, leaving a young man with just over a year's seniority to hold down the post that fateful ight), so another friend and I headed down to Bureau to help stand vigil over that last, longest night.

One thing I'll never forget was the chatter on the block line betwsen the various offices, talking about who landed a job where, exchanging addresses and phone numbers and many admonishments to "keep in touch, okay?".

At midnight the Dispatcher in Des Moines came on the line and with one sentence put any unspoken hopes of a reprieve for the Rock to rest: "Good morning up and down the line FOR THE VERY LAST TIME...." I don't recall his exact words beyond that, but he went on to say today's the end of 128 years of a great railroad and finished with the request "let's go out with a little class." Then, without further fanfare, he started taking the weather reports, like he had done every night and sounding like doing so again tomorrow was a foregone conclusion.

I have a few crappy slides of that night and in hindsight I wish I'd had a tape recorder (didn't own one at the time), but that night is just as fresh in my mind now as it was when I got in the car a few hours later to go home.

Here's to a mighty fine road and the people that made her so,

NZ



Date: 03/31/10 11:07
Re: Where were you when the Rock shut down?
Author: switchlock

I was pissing away my first year of school at Wichita State, totally oblivious of what was happening a couple miles to the west. I've always liked trains but didn't start paying attention until it was too late.



Date: 03/31/10 12:14
Re: Where were you when the Rock shut down?
Author: aussiehinz

I was in Baltimore. I transferred east from Chicago at the end of 1977, and did not get back on the RI before it was disemboweled. I did not have to witness the sad, depressing last dayys of the Rock and remember being grateful that I'd had the opportunity, albeit brief, to spend a little time on it.



Date: 03/31/10 12:34
Re: Where were you when the Rock shut down?
Author: yardclerk

I was working the Second Trick Train Order Clerk job at Rock Island's Harter Yard in Oklahoma City that last night.

The last train, the Extra 4530 West, a Harter Turn, had come and gone around 5:30 PM. The last interchange cars had been brought over from El Reno Yard so that we could get them off the railroad before Shutdown.

Yardclerk



Date: 03/31/10 12:52
Re: Where were you when the Rock shut down?
Author: Chessie2018

I was only one when The Rock shut down, at least I have 2 (Proto 2000) Rock GP38-2's to remember them by

Jason Trew
CHATTANOOGA, TN



Date: 03/31/10 12:53
Re: Where were you when the Rock shut down?
Author: galenadiv

I was with C&NW at the time and was in the yard at Des Moines as C&NW took over the Spine Line. North Western signal and track crews had built right up to the edge of RI property, then made the connection when the time came. I took a photo of the first C&NW diesel on the taken-over territory that made the cover of the company magazine.



Date: 03/31/10 13:21
Re: Where were you when the Rock shut down?
Author: DavidP

Living on Martha's Vineyard where we had no trains....I remember hearing about it on the TV news in a bar.

Dave



Date: 03/31/10 14:04
Re: Where were you when the Rock shut down?
Author: redneck4449

not born



Date: 03/31/10 15:21
Re: Where were you when the Rock shut down?
Author: MILW16

BlackWidow Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Was the decision to shut down the Rock on 3/31/80
> made public on 3/31/80, or was there advance
> warning? I had always thought this date was known
> well before 3/31/80 as the last day of operations.


Living near Milwaukee I didn't have much knowledge of the Rock Island (we were experiencing enough problems with the hometown road's bankruptcy). However, It seems to me that the end of the RI was know about for a while, it just depended on an eleventh hour reprieve that never came. Do I remember this correctly.



Date: 03/31/10 18:23
Re: Where were you when the Rock shut down?
Author: engine3420

Working with a Rock Island wire chief on a data circuit to El Paso...he interupted and said were all done here, no More Rock Island so I shut down my end of the circuit and went back to my radio shop. Sure glad I did not work for them!
Chris



Date: 03/31/10 18:44
Re: Where were you when the Rock shut down?
Author: JoCoLB

I watched the last R.I. train arrive in Herington, KS. See my separate post from earlier today.



Date: 03/31/10 18:47
Re: Where were you when the Rock shut down?
Author: UPTRAIN

Wasn't born yet but I'll post a few pictures the remnants I saw around KC today.

Pump



Date: 03/31/10 19:06
Re: Where were you when the Rock shut down?
Author: RuleG

I was living in Columbus, OH at the time.

My last experience with the Rock Island was when I was passing through Chicago and stopped by LaSalle Street station where I encountered some Rock Island workers on strike (I think this was 1979).

I did spend a very chilly couple hours at LaSalle Street station photographing passenger units in December 1977. The Rock Island was auctioning off some of its memorabilia, but I didn't participate.



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