I was too young, and Rock Island was just out of reach, for me to have photographed the railroad in its last days. I sure wish I could have, but only saw bits and pieces of it as the years wore on. A family vacation was winding down when we drove through Council Bluffs to discover a string of old Rock Island equipment in storage at now-owner Union Pacific. Among the line of locomotives that will likely never turn another wheel was uniquely-attired Rock Island GP40 No. 4710. This colorful engine deserved a frame of Kodachrome, even though the light was wrong and we were still trying to make a few more miles toward home. With the blue overspray behind the cab, and white rear steps, it appears to be a hood replacement with an older red sister. Or maybe only the cab, nose and pilots needed repainting after a wreck repair. Anyone really know?
The Rock Island ceased to exist 40 years ago today, at midnight on March 31, 1980.