The "Blue Train"


After the Indianola branch of the Rock Island was reconditioned in the summer of 1975, it was reopened with considerable ceremony. A special passenger train was assembled in downtown Des Moines, including two freight cars, two bay window cabooses, and GeeP 4517. All the freight equipment and the engine were in fresh "Rock" blue and white paint jobs (Yuck!).

Rides on the "Blue Train" were by invitation, so the stainless steel Rock Island cars carried a collection of small-town dignitaries and business persons. The cars were not crowded, however, and one or two railfans managed to slip aboard as well! The train headed east across the Des Moines river, rounded the southwest leg of the wye at Shortline Junction, went south to Carlisle, and was soon out on the freshly ballasted Indianola branch. Eventually, the train arrived in Indianola under the watchful eyes of every available Rock Island official.