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Silver Rails and Dark Territory

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There was time in the early 1980s that the costs of the fuel crisis had been counted, the costs of failed mergers had run their course, and the deferred maintenance had overcome the original mainlines.  It was a dark time.  The end for the Rock Island was 1980. 
The end was not without its drama as even the bankrupt Milwaukee Road played a part.  In order to serve the steel industry at Wilton, the Milwaukee operated daylight hours over the eastern Iowa main.  A local operation, the Iowa Railroad, operated the nights.  The Iowa Railroad played a large role in preserving the mainline across the state as it helped maintain a continuous link from Omaha east.  In addition to farm commodities, this preserved service to the all important customer at Newton:  Maytag.  Many have speculated that it was Maytag more than anything else that saved this mainline from total abandonment.  For many years the company even owned rights to the old Rock Island corporate logos.

In 1984 the Milwaukee Road w…