Off the Rocks

Oh, the Rock Island line is a mighty good road,

Oh, the Rock Island line it's a road to ride.

This once popular song was not popular among long-suffering customers of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway: it seemed to them the bitterest satire. The Rock Island went formally bankrupt in 1933, after years of tottering on the verge.

The story goes that passengers got so used to late trains that they came late to catch them. But they hardly expected to see, even on the eccentric Rock Island, the automobile, equipped with railroad wheels, that came down the track...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!