CRI&P E8A 649 with Train 12, the Peoria Rocket approaching Mossville, IL (just outside Peoria) in the early morning sun in June 1963.

(Photo by Roger Puta, courtesy Marty Bernard, railfan 44, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


CRIP Rocket drumhead.


The original Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad's Peoria Rocket was a lightweight, streamlined diesel-electric passenger train built by the Budd Company. It was one of six trains that were the first streamlined equipment purchased by the Rock Island, as well as being one of its first diesel-powered passenger trains. The train consisted of four cars and began regular service in 1937.

The stainless steel train was powered by an Electro-Motive Corporation model TA locomotive. Unlike many other early streamlined trains, the locomotive was not permanently attached to the train.

The train was articulated except for the observation car. Later, as the railroad streamlined more trains on more routes, the list of "Rocket" trains grew.


A postcard depicting the Peoria Rocket, ca. 1937.

(E.C. Kropp, Milwaukee, WI, Public domain, W. Lenheim Collection)


Rock Island's famous "Christine", No. 621, an Alco DL-109 repowered by EMD, arriving

in Chicago with train No. 14,  the Peoria Rocket in June of 1967. Photo by John A. Kirchner.

(Audio-Visual Designs, Earlton, NY, Public domain, W. Lenheim Collection). 


Original Consist

The Peoria Rocket, Chicago, Illinois to Peoria, Illinois
Articulated 3-car set plus one:

  • 32 seat Baggage-dinette-coach No. 400 Joliet
  • 60 seat coach No. 306 Ottawa
  • 76 seat coach No. 300 La Salle
  • 32 seat, 1 drawing room, parlor, buffet, observation car No. 450 Peoria
  • 1 EMC TA Diesel-Electric Locomotive (1,200 hp)


CRI&P 642 (E7A) with Train 11, the Peoria Rocket leaving LaSalle Street Station on February 2, 1968.

(Photo by Roger Puta, courtesy Marty Bernard, railfan 44, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Postcard photo of the Jet Rocket train of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad.

The Jet Rocket served between Chicago and Peoria, Illinois for a time in the mid 1950s.

(L.L. Cook Company, Milwaukee, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Amtrak and Eventual Demise

Before Amtrak Peoria was served by the Rock Island's Peoria Rocket out of the Rock Island's Rock Island, IL Depot. Then in serious financial distress, the Rock Island opted out of Amtrak in 1971. The company decided it was cheaper to keep running its remaining passenger trains, the Peoria Rocket and Quad Cities Rocket, than hand them to Amtrak. The two trains continued running until December 31, 1978, each providing one daily round trip between Chicago's LaSalle Street Station and Peoria and Rock Island, respectively, via Joliet.


The beautiful former Rock Island station in Peoria, IL.

(Ron Reiring, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


See Also:

Rock Island Rockets

Prairie Marksman

Jet Rocket

Named Passenger Trains A-K

Named Passenger Trains L-Z