Rockets in Des Moines, 1968-69


Rock Island Passenger service in Des Moines was near its end when the following photographs were taken. A handful of named trains remain in the Winter 67-68 Timetable. Rail travelers could go east, west, north or south from Des Moines on Rock Island trains. A double-track mainline served the downtown Des Moines station, and schedules were arranged so that north/south and east/west trains met, occupying both mains in front of the depot.

From the March 2, 1969 timetable:

 #7, Cornhusker - Arrive Des Moines 4:35 pm Westbound
#10, Corn Belt Rocket - Arrive Des Moines 1:10 pm Eastbound
#17, Plainsman - Arrive Des Moines 4:25 pm Southbound
#18, Plainsman - Arrive Des Moines 1:05 pm Northbound

North/south traffic backed between the depot and Short Line Junction in east Des Moines. On some days, two trains would leave the depot at the same time and travel side-by-side across the Des Moines river bridge, passing south of the state capitol building. At Short Line Junction the two trains would separate, one heading for Chicago and the other for Minneapolis. For the final few years, Rock Island passenger trains through Des Moines often trailed piggyback cars and cabooses.

All of the images below were taken in downtown Des Moines unless otherwise noted. These images were originally Ektachrome slides, and have been processed into Kodak Photo CD format.

Winter 1967-68

Spring 1968

Summer 1968

Winter 1968-69

Summer 1969