Rock Island Railroad in Arkansas
Images of Rail
Michael E. Hibblen
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For nearly 80 years, the Rock Island was a major railroad in Arkansas providing passenger and freight services. A decline in rail travel after World War II and an increase in trucks hauling freight over government-subsidized interstates were among factors that left the railroad struggling. Efforts to merge with other railroads were stalled for years by federal regulators. The Rock Island filed for bankruptcy in 1975 and attempted a reorganization, but creditors wanted the assets liquidated, with a judge shutting it down in 1980. Most of the tracks that traversed the state were taken up, but a few relics, like the Little Rock passenger station and the Arkansas River bridge, remain as monuments to this once great railroad.