Trail Ramblings: The Rock Island, North

 Last week I focused on some history of the Rock Island Trail south of the Penny Bridges, and the proposed connection to Wilderness Park. Here are a few photos I didn’t have last week.

Checking rail. Photo courtesy Bengtson Family Archive.
The derailment. The Penny Bridges are seen in the background looking North.  Photo courtesy Bengtson Family Archive.
We think the structure in the center is the construction of Maude Rousseau School. Photo courtesy Bengtson Family Archive.

This week I’d like to focus on where that rail line went north. You’ve probably ridden on it through Antelope Park, through the tunnel under 27th and Capitol Parkway on to the Antelope Valley project. The old Rock Island Depot is between O and P streets on 20th. We can ride up out of the valley east where it forms the beginning of the John Dietrich Trail over the Holdrege St. bridge, south of the Devaney Center. The Rock Island railway paralleled the south side of the Burlington Northern line past State Fair Park, turning east at about Seward and 48th St. The Dietrich Trail wends it’s way through a series of parks, some created from land originally intended for a proposed Northeast Radial roadway, and along streets.  At 48th St. the Dietrich becomes the Murdock trail, which is now paved to 70thSt.

The Murdock Trail past 98th St.

It continues to 112th, but the railway continued on through Prairie Home, Alvo, Murdock, and to South Bend where it crossed the Platte. The Rock Island paralleled the Missouri Pacific, or Mopac. It would have been a great rails-to-trails project. The 8 mile gap in the Mopac between Wabash and South Bend is still in right-of -way negotiations, as far as I know.

In the 1910’s my grandparents would take a horse and buggy from near Alvo, where the Rock Island line passed practically through their back yard, and ride to the Havelock Depot, where they would pick up a street car bound for Epworth Park. It’s part of Wilderness Park now, but then it was a summer camp known for it’s Chautauquas and other popular events. Stay tuned, I’ll talk about that next week.