CRI&P E8A 654 (with the Twin Star Rocket) and MILW FP7 99C (with probably the Afternoon Hiawatha)

at the Milwaukee Road Station in Minneapolis, MN on June 8, 1964.

(Photo Copyright © 2023 Marty Bernard, All rights reserved. Used by permission.


Twin Star Rocket drumhead.


The Twin Star Rocket was a passenger train operated by the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. Introduced on January 14, 1945, it was the only new streamlined train permitted to enter service in World War II by the U.S. government. The new train became the second longest north–south train itinerary under the management of a single railroad in the United States (and the longest measured by great circle distance) with its northern terminal at the Milwaukee Road’s Minneapolis depot and southern terminal 1,363 miles (2,194 km) away at Houston, Texas. The name of the new streamlined train was derived from its terminal states—Texas being known as the Lone Star State and Minnesota as the North Star State. Additionally, the name references Minneapolis being one of the Twin Cities and Houston's aerospace industry and culture.


Rock Island's " Twin Star Rocket" train No. 17, southbound, headed by diesel locomotive No. 677, enroute from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Houston, leaves Dallas on the last portion of its run in 1951. This was one of the finest streamliners operating in the nation. Its route from the Twin Cities of the north to the Texas' metropolis adjacent to the Gulf covered a rail distance of 1,363 miles. Photo by Roger S. Plummer. (University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Museum of the American Railroad.)


Rolling stock

The Rock Island assigned the two Rocket train sets from the Kansas City–Minneapolis Rocket, and one train set from the Kansas City–Dallas Texas Rocket was transferred to the new Twin Star Rocket. The other Texas Rocket train set then began operating a daily round trip Rocket service between Oklahoma City and Kansas City. Another of the three-car Rocket trains operated an Oklahoma City–Dallas round trip daily.


Sleeping cars

The new Twin Star Rocket operated the Minneapolis–Kansas City segment of the trip in daylight hours in both directions, so no sleeping cars were initially carried between those cities. At Kansas City the southbound Twin Star Rocket added a lightweight 8-section, 5-double bedroom sleeping car for the overnight run to Houston. The northbound train carried another 8-section, 5-double bedroom sleeping car between Houston and Kansas City. The two lightweight streamlined sleeping cars originally assigned to the Twin Star Rocket were Forest Canyon and Thompson Canyon, two cars originally assigned to the Rocky Mountain Rocket as Kansas City–Denver cars. The Twin Star Rocket served Saint Paul Union Depot, Albert Lea, Des Moines, Kansas City, Topeka, Wichita, El Reno, Fort Worth and Dallas en route to Houston from Minneapolis. By 1957 the sections were replaced by modern roomettes.


Rock Island Train No.17, the southbound Twin Star Rocket headed by No.652 a 2250 HP Electromotive E8 and

a 2000 HP E7 approach Tower 19 on July 14, 1952. Photo by Roger S. Plummer.

(University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Museum of the American Railroad.)



The Rock Island powered these three streamlined consists with EMD E6 and later EMD E8 and E7 units taken from other schedules.


Lunch is now being served aboard the Rock Island's "Twin Star Rocket" train No. 17, southbound, enroute from Minneapolis to Houston in 1951.

(University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Museum of the American Railroad.)


Baggage and dining cars

Each train set was assigned a heavyweight baggage-30-foot Railway Post Office cars, streamlined dining cars came from the Golden State and were known as the Cactus series as each was named for a cactus—No. 422 Yucca; No. 423 Sahuaro; and No. 424 Ocotillo. The Twin Star Rockets were fully streamlined in 1948.


A fold-out Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad schedule from 1959 shows the Twin Star Rocket schedule south of Fort Worth.

(Burlington Route, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Twin Star Rocket Overview

Service type: Inter-city rail
Status: Discontinued
Locale: Midwestern United States/Southwestern United States
First service: 1945
Last service: 1967
Former operator: Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad
Route Termini: Minneapolis, Minnesota / Houston, Texas
Stops: 26 intermediate stops
Distance traveled: 1,363 mi (2,194 km)
Average journey time: 25 hours, 50 minutes, southbound; 25 hours, 40 minutes, northbound
Service frequency: Daily
Train numbers: 507 (southbound) and 508 (northbound)
On-board services
Seating arrangements: Coach
Sleeping arrangements: Roomettes and double bedrooms
Catering facilities: Dining car
Observation facilities: Parlor lounge observation car (1957)
Track gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)


A Rock Island passenger route map from a ticket envelope.

(Rock Island Railroad, via W. Lenheim Collection)