The ROCKET! The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific is often forgotten as a diesel pioneer. Their EMC TA locomotives set the thinking towards having an independent locomotive and separate lightweight cars – the earliest streamliners had operationally inflexible articulated train sets.
As the Rockets,
- Kansas City-Oklahoma City 
- Texas Rocket Fort Worth-Houston 
- Chicago-Des Moines 
- Chicago-Peoria 
- Minneapolis-Kansas City 
- Denver-Kansas City 
- Kansas City-Dallas 
- Rocky Mountain Rocket Chicago-Denver/Colorado Springs 
- Choctaw Rocket Memphis-Amarillo 
- Zephyr Rocket (with CB&Q) St Louis-Minneapolis 
became more popular, with train lengths increasing, the little EMC TA’s could not handle them. Sometimes they were double-headed.
In September of 1939, two, more powerful E3 A-units were delivered as CRI&P 625 and 626 (EMC s/n 934 & 935 respectively). Then in June of 1940, E6 A-units CRI&P 627 (s/n 1063), 628 (s/n 1064), 629 (s/n 1065) arrived. Finally, in October of 1941 E6 A-units CRI&P 630 (s/n 1424) and 631 (s/n 1425) rounded out the pre-war EMC/EMD passenger diesel-electric fleet.
Oh yes, then there was the EMC AB – an E6 locomotive with a box-cab front end so as to blend in behind the lead E6 for the Rocky Mountain Rocket. In operation, this train split in two with one section going to Denver and the other going to Colorado Springs. The Colorado Springs section was headed by the AB locomotive. There were two of them, CRI&P 750 & 751.
My model of engine 628 received the Tsunami 2 DCC/Sound treatment, along with new LED lights and Sergent coupler at the rear end.
One thing I have not mentioned in past postings – the Broadway Limited Imports models come with Leslie A125 and A200 horns mounted; typical, but not necessarily what the prototypes had when delivered or afterwards. The Tsunami 2 EMD decoder has this option so I selected it. I also keep the system sound much lower than the decoder defaults, setting it at 40 (out of 255). For me, this is just right.
By the way, here are neat websites on diesel locomotive air horns:
The book, Rock Island Railroad Photo Archive (J.Kelly, Iconografix, 2010) has a lot of early Rocket photos: TA’s, E3’s, E6’s, DL07, later power, and some nice steam too (plus passenger cars, stations, advertisements). Many photos are from my era of interest (pre-war). There’s a photo of a sparkling-new 628 and sisters on page 20.
In the Classic Trains Special (No. 3, 2004), Streamliner Pioneers, has a great article on why, when and how the CRI&P created their Rockets. Lots of photos, one in color, a system map, and written in the typically polished Classic Trains style.
The fairly recent Classic Trains Special Great Trains West (2016), has a very interesting photo-article “Where the ROCKETS WED” – showing step-by-step (15 photos!) on how the Colorado Springs section of the Rocky Mountain Rocket combined with its Denver section at Limon, Colorado.
Here are some more photos of CRI&P 628…
Well, that’s it; the E6 Cabinet Collection is upgraded. I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to improve these great-looking models. Even though they rest in a display cabinet, I know they will run and sound as good as they look anytime I wish to operate them.