There was a time when the Rocket name meant very good service on the Rock Island Railroad. But June 1977 was not one of those times.
It is an early Saturday evening in Joliet, Illinois, as the Peoria Rocket approaches Joliet Union Station.
The Rocket is funded in part by the State of Illinois, but that will not be enough to keep it going much longer.
I had boarded the Rocket in Peoria earlier in the day for a day trip to Chicago. I was appalled by the condition of the train and made a spur-of-the-moment decision to ride Amtrak’s Lone Star to Joliet to pick up the Rocket for my return leg to Peoria.
The ride aboard the Rocket was rough and there had been few passengers on the trip to Chicago earlier in the day. The equipment was worn out.
In retrospect I wished I had better appreciated the experience that I had, though. The Peoria Rocket was one of the last of its kind.
I also wish that I had better photography skills than I had when I made this image. Namely, that I had waited to snap the photograph until the nose of the locomotive was closer.
But I was young and had much to learn. Today this image reminds me of another time that is never going to come back around, but at least I did make the effort to experience it.