Classic Streamliners, The Firefly and the Rock Island Line

Classic Streamliners

“The Firefly: Fast Frisco Streamliner”

The St. Louis – San Francisco Railroad (the Frisco) operated the streamlined “Texas Special” in a joint venture with the Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad (MKT or the Katy). This luxurious streamliner ran from St. Louis, Missouri to Dallas, Texas, Ft. Worth, Texas and San Antonio, Texas. The “Texas Special” has been a very popular prototype in model railroading. While the Texas Special was the most famous passenger train the Frisco ever operated, it also operated an entire fleet of named trains. These included: the “Bluebonnet” (also a joint venture with the M-K-T from 1927 to 1948 that ran from St. Louis to San Antonio); the “Black Gold” (Tulsa to Fort Worth); the “Firefly” (Tulsa to Kansas City); the “Kansas City-Florida Special” (Kansas City to Jacksonville); the “Memphian” (St. Louis to Memphis); the “Meteor” (an overnight streamliner from St. Louis to Tulsa and Oklahoma City); the “Oklahoman” (which once connected Kansas City to Tulsa but was later rerouted between St. Louis to Oklahoma City); the “Southland” (Kansas City to Birmingham); the “Sunnyland” (Kansas City via St. Louis and Atlanta to Pensacola); and the “Will Rogers” (St. Louis via Oklahoma City to Wichita).

“The Rock Island Line was a Mighty Fine Line”

The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad was a former Class I railroad that operated over 7,600 miles in 14 states including Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas, from 1852 until 1980. The railroad was commonly known as the “Rock Island.” This giant, rich agricultural and industrial “mid-continent empire” was at one time criss-crossed by a fleet of eight streamlined Rock Island “Rockets” and an even greater number of daily scheduled “Rocket freights.” When the entire Rock Island Rail System was abandoned in 1980, it was one of the most complicated and time-consuming undertakings in the annals of rail history.


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