Iowa Interstate's Chinese-built QJ 2-10-2 6988 sits on display with GP38-2 701 during Train Festival 2011 in Rock Island, Illinois. Lighting was provided by Steve Barry during one of his scheduled night photo sessions on July 23, 2011.
A Mighty Fine Line: The Iowa Interstate
By Chris Lastovich/photos by the author
Welcome to Photo Line! “The Rock Island Line is a mighty fine line” says the old blues folk song. Though the Rock Island officially left us on March 31, 1980, regional railroad Iowa Interstate has successfully operated a significant portion since 1984. Over the last decade, this dynamic regional has seen growth in both its traffic volume and fan base. With the 2012 NRHS Convention being held this summer in Cedar Rapids, fans from all around the country will be flocking to central Iowa where they will no doubt catch a glimpse of one of the most successful and aesthetically pleasing railroads in the Midwest. Photographer Chris Lastovich takes us on a tour of the Iowa Interstate's busy east end in the June 2012 issue of Railfan & Railroad.
PECR at Chillicothe, Illinois
Iowa Interstate ES44AC 513 leads a PECR (Peoria-Cedar Rapids) loaded coal train up Subdivision 2 through Chillicothe, Illinois, passing the original restored Rock Island depot on March 13, 2011. The locomotive was painted in tribute to the old Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad, which operated most of the current Iowa Interstate lines.
RISW at Rock Island, Illinois
The RISW (Rock Island Switcher) crew uses a pair of 700 series GP38-2s to work the small yard in Rock Island, Illinois. They will be sorting cars for the east train to pick up and grain to be forwarded to Peoria, on October 18, 2008.
BICB at Kent Park, Illinois
Back before the brand new GE’s were even thought of, the Iowa Interstate's roster was made up of all four-axle EMD’s. Here we see a BICB (Blue Island-Cedar Rapids) a few miles west of Iowa City, Iowa,. The train is heading into the sunset around Kent Park curve behind two GP10’s, a GP38-2, and a pair of GP38ACs on February 18, 2007. All but the middle unit have since been retired from the active roster.
BISI at Bureau County
An extra BISI (Blue Island-Silvis) screams west out of Bureau County river valley behind a pair of former Reserve Mining SD38-2’s. These beasts were barking all kinds of beautiful sounds as they did what they were built to do, pull slow but hard. Due to the railroad being buried under snow for over 24 hours, this train was made up of over 150 cars making for quite the show upgrade on December 26, 2010.
BUSW at Henry, Illinois
Big power rules on Sub 2 this day as a local BUSW (Bureau Switcher, also known as "The Rocket") crew is heading through Henry, Illinois, to make a trade with the Tazewell & Peoria in Peoria, 30 grain empties for a heavy loaded coal train on December 11, 2009.
CBBI at Rock Island, Illinois
Crossing over the Government bridge into Illinois, these 2 GEVO’s have a lengthy BICB (Blue Island-Council Blufs) in control, spanning the entire Mississippi River from Illinois to Iowa on April 29, 2011.
BUSW at Rome, Illinois
Accelerating out of a slow order in Chillicothe, this BUSW crew has their hands full with steel loads and entire empty coal train for the Tazewell & Peiroia in Peoria on April 17, 2010.
See the June 2011 edition of Photo Line for more of Chris' Iowa Interstate photography.