Rock Island K-55/K-60 Mikado Pack

Rock Island K-55/K-60 Mikado Pack

2-8-2 Mikados, apparently. Hello again, it’s 611 Hype Man with my largest Mikado pack yet. Today’s entree is the Chicago, Rock Island, & Pacific, or the Rock Island. Or the Rock. Or the Rock Island Line. Etc, etc. Anyway, this one goes out to all of you midwestern railfans.

A Mighty Good Road
What was the Rock, you may ask? Why, they were only the ultimate expression of the “granger” group of railroads. These midwestern lines made their primary business hauling agricultural products to market, running a dense network of rural branch lines to serve their many small customers. The Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific’s origins date back to 1847, and the line was the first to bridge the Mississippi River in 1856 (and the first to have their bridge destroyed by the vengeful steamboat lobby 1 year later). The railroad expanded all across the midwest, with major lines extending out to such disparate destinations as New Mexico, Colorado, Louisiana, and Minnesota. Unfortunately for The Rock, spreading out so much without one main focus left them at a disadvantage in most markets they competed in, mainly against other granger roads like the Chicago & Northwestern and the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy. Beyond the granger trade, the Chicago, Rock Island, & Pacific was also well known for its fast passenger trains (later christened the Rocket fleet in the streamline era) and its major involvement in the Chicago commuter business, ferrying people back and forth through La Salle St Station downtown. The road went through a series of boom and bust cycles, with the 1940s and 50s being the last good times for them before their final decline as the granger market collapsed due to the rise of truck transport, which could easily undercut the railroad’s prices. The negotiations for a merger with the Union Pacific starting in 1964 sealed the fate of the Rock Island, as management saw no reason to spend money on infrastructure improvements or maintenance when UP could take care of it “after the merger.” As a result, the Rock Island’s tracks decayed to the point where UP chose to call off the merger when it finally was approved by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) in 1974. At this point, the Rock Island was so poor they declined to give their passenger trains over to Amtrak in 1971 because they physically could not afford the Amtrak entry fee. The now decrepit Rock Island entered bankruptcy the next year, and spent the second half of the decade trying to make itself profitable again. Unfortunately, a strike in 1979 and subsequent efforts by the Rock Island’s management to keep trains running led to an urgent appeal by the unions to the ICC and a decision to liquidate the railroad. The Rock Island’s remaining lines and equipment were sold to the highest bidder, with many of their lines being bought by Union Pacific anyway for pennies on the dollar. And so ended the story of the Rock Island.

The Mikados
This pack contains two different classes of Mikados used by the Rock Island: the K-55 and K-60.

The K-55s were USRA Light Mikados assigned to the Rock Island in 1919. This group of 20 is identical to the other USRA Standard Mikes and are pretty much 100% accurate to the original as modeled here in the game. Later in their service career, Rock Island shop crews converted many of the locomotives to burn oil rather than coal, a modification not represented here.

The K-60s were similar to the USRA Mikes, but were ordered by and built specifically for the Rock Island. These Mikados came in two batches, a pre-WW1 and post WW1 batch. All told, the Rock Island operated 143 K-60 class locomotives. Many of these came with Vanderbilt-style tenders, a rarity on The Rock , most of which were rebuilt into homebuilt “loaf of bread” tenders as the bottoms rusted out, creating one of the ugliest tender designs ever made. These locomotives were also split between coal and oil burners, with oil-burning locos typically being assigned to western and southwestern portions of the railroad. All the K-60s in this mod have full Vanderbilt tenders and burn coal.

After 1937, the Rock Island started repainting their steam locomotives with a red logo instead of just letters on the tender.

Dieselization came quickly on the Rock Island, and the last steam operations ceased in 1953. No Rock Island Mikados of any class were preserved.

The Stats
Introduction Date: 1918, 1937 for logo variants
Retirement Date: 1954
Road Numbers: Randomized between 2300-19 for K-55s, 2500-99 for K-60s
7 Variants! 4 K-55s and 3 K-60s! Short Tenders, Extended Tenders, and Vandy Tenders all represented
Asset versions with fixed numbers for each!

Neighbor Kid’s USRA Light Mikados

Final Thoughts
“Reading about the Rock Island is enough to give you CRIPpling depression.” – Me

This wound up being a lot larger and more involved project than I was expecting. The Rock Island seemingly put as many different liveries on their steam locomotives as their diesel. You half dozen Iowans who are crazy about The Rock can sleep easy now. IDK what project is next on the docket right now, but B & FAs will come eventually!

Required items:
USRA Light Mikado

Mr. Santa Dino
Neighbor Kid for the main USRA Mikado mod
theMeatballHero for the random numbers
MC Couplers
Excellent sounds by Mrcheesecake

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