Rock Island Steam Locomotive Update

Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific steam locomotive number 886, a 4-6-2 Pacific type, is currently on display at the small, privately owned, "Wheels O' Time" transportation museum in Dunlap, Illinois. Dunlap is a wide spot in the road about 10 miles north of Peoria. The Pacific type steam locomotive is, arguably, one of the most aesthetic of all configurations. Cosmetically, this one looks great, but, according to one of the owners, she is a long way from being roadworthy. There are no plans to make her so.

This locomotive was actually numbered 887 (see Rock Island Motive Power, 1933-1955 by Lloyd E. Stagner, p. 48).  The story goes that the city of Peoria asked the CRI&P to donate Pacific type 886, since it was the last steam engine to pull a train out of Peoria. The Rock Island had scrapped the original 886 only weeks before, so it brought in the 887, repainted and obligingly renumbered her, and donated her to the city of Peoria. The "new" 886 was originally placed on display just to the north of the Peoria passenger station, at Detweiler Park, where she remained for several years. Eventually, she became a vandalism and maintenance burden to the city of Peoria, so the Peoria Regional Museum Society raised the money, acquired her, cosmetically restored her and moved her to Dunlap for display. The pictures attached were taken in the spring of 1996. She is obviously still quite a sight to see, and my trip to Dunlap was a near religious experience for me.

Today, only two additional Rock Island steam engines, both also 4-6-2 Pacifics, still exist in all of the world. The 905 was donated to Duncan, Oklahoma in 1955, and the 938 was donated to Enid, Oklahoma in 1955. The 938 was later acquired by a tourist line called the "Tarantula Railroad" in Fort Worth, Texas. The Tarantula uses the tracks of the Fort Worth & Southern. Plans to restore the 938 to operating status were scrapped as too expensive and the locomotive was sold to the Illinois Railway Museum. IRM plans to move the 938 from Fort Worth to Union, Illinois this summer (1997) and have it reassembled and on display by this fall.

Images of Rock Island 886

Article and Images Courtesy Wade Calvert