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Rock Island Football Special at Iowa City

Rock Island's University of Iowa Football Specials. For years, well into the mid 1960's Rock Island's passenger department operated football specials to all the Iowa home games in Iowa City, and even some from Iowa towns to away from home games at Nortre Dame and the Univerity of Minnesota. As many a 6,000 to 8,000 rode those trains which originated in Des Moines, Manly, IA and Quad Cities. This fall day in 1961 sees the 621 (an EMD re-engined Alco DL 109 unit) in the lead of a Des Moines special. While a sister EMD E8 sitting on the mainline, is in charge of another Des Moines special. A Manly-Iowa City special have already been turned ready to head back after the game and are on the same tracks just to the East. The Rock's mainline ran in a cut just adjacent to the football stadium and a Siding, called "Stadium", was located in this cut long enough to hold at least two, 20 plus car passenger trains. Passengers easily walked extra wide stairs ascending the ravine to their seats in the stadium in 10 minutes or less. Sadly, the automobile became king in Iowa, and both Rock Island and the era of these famous specials are now but a memory. But folks who remeber them and listen hard at the stadium can hear the five chime whisltes of the specials beckoning them back near the end of the game. Whether Iowa won or lost, the trip home was still fun on a "Rock Island Football Special".


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