Month of Amtrak: Black Hawk

Welcome back to the Month of Amtrak. Today’s train is a train that lasted almost a decade before it ended. This was the Black Hawk.



Amtrak E8 352 at Munger, Illinois in 1975 with the Black Hawk.


The Black Hawk was a daily scheduled Amtrak train from Chicago to Dubuque, Iowa. This was more or less of a successor to the Land O’Corn, a passenger train operated by the Illinois Central Railroad until 1967. From 1974 to 1976, the train used Budd Rail Diesel Cars. After 1976, the train switched to a more conventional appearance. In 1976, Amfleet coaches came onto the Hawk and replaced conventional coaches that were steam heated. Throughout its life, groups in Rockford, Illinois sponsored trips on the Hawk which often expanded the size of the train to as many as 10 passenger cars. Despite this, the train didn’t last. Service ended in 1981, when the state of Illinois reduced their appropriations for passenger service. But, the journey doesn’t end here.

Like the  Prairie Marksman, which we covered in a prior post, there has been talks about a revival. Also like the Marksman, Amtrak was requested to do a study about a possible revival. Unlike the Marksman, the train was supposed to be revived in 2014 as far as Rockford, with an extension to Dubuque possibly. The train was going to use a different route on a new set of former IC tracks, now owned by the Canadian National. While there were talks, it didn’t exactly work out initially as CN didn’t want the train to go into Iowa, but the state kept putting pressure, and it only gets worse. While the CN and IDOT continue to discuss about a potential revival, there has been a snag. A big snag. In 2015, the state of Illinois put the project on hold due to insufficient funds. While I don’t know if the Black Hawk will return, it’s good to know there is some interest in a possible revival.
Here is a copy of the timetable in 1981, the train’s final year of operation.

That concludes this installment in the Month of Amtrak. Until next time, this is Jessica, out.


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