Two original passenger “E-units” which once led Rock Island streamliners are bound for a new home.
Both units ran to and from Peoria on the Peoria Rocket. The 630, resplendent in a “Golden Rocket” scheme applied for builer Electro Motive Division’s 50-anniversary in 1972, pulled a fantrip from Chicago to Peoria in September that year. A love-it-or-hate-it Bicentennial scheme was applied to 652 in 1976.
These units enjoyed stints at the Midland Railway out of Baldwin City, Kansas. No. 630 had been purchased from the Rock Island by a Kansas City museum in May 1979 and restored in 1988 to a livery similar to its original dress. No. 652 was preserved and then restored to its original paint scheme by the Midland museum in 1994. Both units were sold by the Midland Railway to Sabin’s Manly Junction Railroad Museum in 2009.
Slant-nose E-6A #630, built in 1941, and E-8A #652, built in 1952, are the property of Dan Sabin and have been cosmetically restored to wear an early 1960s-era simplification of the classic crimson-and-maroon livery worn by locomotives which powered the Rock Island’s famous Rocket fleet.
Sabin, president of the Iowa Northern Railway, had worked for the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad for a decade starting in 1968 as a student train order operator, eventually becoming the nation’s youngest dispatcher three years later at age 18. So his interest in the units requires no explanation.
Mid-America Railcar in Kansas City, Missouri repainted both 630 and 652 prior to shipment to Manly. I received word that Canadian Pacific would haul these units on a regular freight train (Kansas City to St. Paul No. 475) through the Quad Cities sometime on Monday, May 22. I wouldn’t get out of work until 3:00pm so the later the better.
Fortunately, 475 was later. I arrived the east side of Nahant Yard in Davenport, Iowa in time to capture it making a set out. Both 630 and 652 presented a splended appearance as they passed before my lens. The appearance of the Eldridge Branch local with two Deere & Company hydraulic excavator loads was icing on the cake!
I waited until evening in hopes of seeing 475’s departure north. Even better, I caught counterpart 474 (St. Paul to Kansas City) while waiting in downtown Davenport.
Perhaps an hour later, 475 received permission to depart Nahant Yard. Scenes are at West Davenport and in downtown Davenport next to the Government Bridge.
– David P. Jordan