"Here she comes... the beautiful Golden Rocket!"

(Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Golden Rocket Plate Stamp.


The Golden Rocket was a proposed named passenger train of the Rock Island (CRIP) and Southern Pacific (SP) railroads. Planned in the late 1940s, Southern Pacific eventually pulled out of the agreement and service never commenced.



In February 1946, the Rock Island and Southern Pacific Railroads planned on jointly introducing a high-speed, tri-weekly passenger train that would run between Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles, California. Two 11-car consists were to have been placed into service on the new line, one owned by the CRIP and the other by the SP. However, just as Pullman-Standard neared completion on the Rock Island trainset in 1947, and in the midst of an aggressive advertising campaign, the Southern Pacific abruptly withdrew from the project. Rock Island took delivery of its rolling stock: a baggage-dormitory car, three coaches, a coffee shop-bar-lounge car, four sleeping cars, and a sleeper-lounge-observation car (with barbershop).

Planned rolling stock

The Rock Island consist for the Golden Rocket:

Baggage-dormitory No. 820
Coach Valle Verde
Coach Valle Vista
Coach Valle Mar
Coffee-shop lounge El Café
Diner El Comedor (see below)
4-double bedroom, 4-compartment, 2-drawing room sleeper La Quinta
22-roomette sleeper La Costa
12-double bedroom sleeper La Jolla
12-double bedroom sleeper La Palma
2-double bedroom, 1-drawing room sleeper buffet lounge-observation La Mirada
The proposed Southern Pacific consist for the Golden Rocket that was never built:

Coach Valle Rio Grande
Coach Valle del Sol
Coach Valle Imperial
Coffee-shop lounge El Café Frontero
Diner La Fonda
4-double bedroom, 4-compartment, 2-drawing room sleeper Monte Chiricahua
22-roomette sleeper Monte Santa Rita
12-double bedroom sleeper Monte San Jacinto
12-double bedroom sleeper Santa Catalina
2-double bedroom, 1-drawing room sleeper buffet lounge-observation La Galleria


Disposition of the equipment

The units arrived bearing the ill-fated Golden Rocket's eye-popping livery, painted bright vermilion on top and bare stainless steel on the bottom. The cars also retained the festive Mexican-themed interiors originally intended for the Golden Rocket. Rock Island assigned the cars to service on the Golden State, its other transcontinental train (jointly operated with Southern Pacific).

The Golden State's cars and locomotives retained the Golden Rocket colors well into 1953, after which time the locomotives were repainted in the SP's well-known red-and-orange Daylight livery. Both railroads advertised the Golden Rocket. It was promoted as "America's Newest, Most Beautiful Streamliner"; instead, it became "the train that never was."


El Comedor

El Comedor (RI No. 428) is a former Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad dining car, one of four built in 1947 on Lot 6762 by Pullman-Standard to plan 7517 for the Golden Rocket, "the train that never was." It was subsequently added to the consist of the Golden State along with its brethren, and stayed with the train for many years after. The car is noted for its beautiful copper interior and Mexican theme. The hammered-copper grilles and window trim were designed by the Mexican artist Jesus Torres, of the Hull House, Chicago, Illinois. 

El Comedor seats 48 people at 12 tables. For a number of years this car was parked in the LaSalle Street Station in Chicago where it was used as a stationary diner, serving patrons of the station. The car is now smooth-sided in stainless steel, and is in the collection of the Railway Museum of Greater Cincinnati in the Latonia area of Covington, Kentucky.

Comedor is a Spanish language word for diner or a railway dining car.


Rock Island 428 El Comedor Overview
Manufacturer: Pullman-Standard
Order number: Lot 6762
Constructed: 1947
Diagram Plan: 7517
Fleet numbers: 428
Capacity: 36 diners
Operators: Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad
Line served: Golden Rocket, Golden State
Car length: 85 ft 0 in (25.91 m)
Track gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge


A magazine ad for the Golden Rocket from the Rock Island. Click to enlarge. (Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


A Dinner Plate intended for the Golden Rocket diner El Comedor. Click to enlarge. (W. Lenheim Collection)

A magazine ad for the Golden Rocket from Southern Pacific. Click to enlarge. (Southern Pacific Railroad, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

See Also:

Golden State