Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #51 – 11/12/22 – Midwest Rail Rangers release new book; first DVD

Saturday, November 12, 2022

We have some more exciting news to share with you! Not only is today the first time in four years that the Midwest Rail Rangers will be returning to Trainfest in Milwaukee… but it also marks the “release date” for our 19th book and also, yes… our very first DVD.

As a Midwest Rail Rangers E-Newsletter member, you are invited to the very first “public showing” of the DVD. It will take place at 3:30pm this afternoon at Trainfest, which takes place at the Wisconsin State Fair Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Admission to Trainfest is required to attend, however there is no additional cost to participate in the viewing. We hope to see you in the “Janesville Room” at Trainfest for the showing of the 73-minute DVD. Again, that will be from 3:30pm to 5:00pm today.

The release of our book and the DVD is making news all over the Midwest, and especially the small town of Hannibal, Missouri. For more information about our latest book and our very first DVD, we turn it over to the news report shown below, written by reporter Trevor McDonald and appearing in this morning’s print edition of the Hannibal Courier Post.

We hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving… and a little tease for you… we will have some more exciting news to share with you in both our upcoming December 2022 and January 2023 newsletters. Stay turned!

Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors


HANNIBAL — The famous Mark Twain Zephyr first appeared on Oct. 25, 1935, in Hannibal for its dedication, and its historic journey to the present day has been chronicled in a new book and companion DVD to be released Saturday.

Robert Tabern worked for two-and-a-half years with the business that acquired the train in 2020 to begin restoration efforts. That work was put on pause in December 2021. Tabern is no longer affiliated with the railroad — his wife, Kandace, and the non-for-profit Midwest Rail Rangers is responsible for the book and DVD, which features a wide range of photos and interviews conducted during off-time and following her husband’s departure.

“Mark Twain Zephyr: History Restoration & Rebirth – Volume Three” includes the first DVD of the book series, filled with interviews from people with memories and stories directly related to the beloved train. Robert and Kandace Tabern traveled across the country to gather historical clues and conduct interviews related to the train.

“She put together all the photos and everything that she took when she was along with me on a lot of these trips. So, the third book is her collection of photos from the time that the train was in St. Louis all the way up until July, when I left the railroad,” Robert Tabern said, noting the images are all “through her eyes” or from the perspective of contributors.

The historic four-car Mark Twain Zephyr was first built in 1935 by the Budd Company for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy (CB&Q) Railroad. The train regularly transported passengers along the Mississippi River in Missouri, Illinois and Iowa until it was put of service in 1958. A total of nine private owners each had a plan for the train before the move from St. Louis to Wisconsin in 2020. Tabern expressed his hope that the restoration would move forward again, and the train would once again carry passengers as it did decades ago.

The DVD contains many fascinating accounts, including recollections from the late Mary Mucci, who was 95 when the Taberns interviewed her in Albuquerque, N.M. Edward Budd Sr. was her grandfather, and he was CEO of the Philadelphia, Pa. plant where the train was constructed.

As a young girl, Mucci remembered touring the facility and seeing the Zephyrs being built. She shared stories about how safety was not up to modern standards, and injuries were common. One time, an employee was hurt and required a blood transfusion. Budd volunteered and came down on the floor to assist.

Robert and Kandace Tabern also spoke with the great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren of CB&Q Railroad President Ralph Budd (no relation to Edward Budd Sr.). He was part of the dedication ceremony in 1935 when the Mark Twain Zephyr arrived in Hannibal. His descendants shared many stories, too.

Albert Dean was the architect for the Zephyrs, and his brother, Walter, designed the articulated wheel system. The Tabern couple got the chance to speak with Dean’s daughter about various details surrounding the origins of the iconic trains.

More than 50 interviews highlight the 73-minute DVD. Hannibal native Deborah White and her brother, George Roberson, of Hannibal, created original songs to accompany a slideshow at the video’s conclusion. Famous country musician Jake Clayton performs the songs. In return for her contribution, White asked for a $5 donation to be provided to the Hannibal History Museum for each DVD sold.

Tabern said there is a chance in the future of visiting Hannibal again, with a possible presentation of the DVD for local residents. The book and DVD will be unveiled on Saturday during Trainfest in Milwaukee, Wisc. The event is the largest operating model train show in the nation. The celebration attracts about 10,000 participants. The first official screening of the DVD will be presented to those who have paid admission.

Tabern said he and his wife chronicled the stories of nine private owners since the first private owner from 1960, talking with his daughter, nephew and son. They also spoke with descendants of the second, third and fourth owners. The fifth, sixth and seventh private owners are still alive, sharing their plans for restoring the train.

“It was pretty fun to do. We did a lot of it on our off time, traveling around. It was like playing detective, trying to put these pieces together. We knew the people of Hannibal appreciated the history of the train, obviously,” he said, noting the mural commissioned by White and created by Ray Harvey portraying the train at Broadway and Third St.

Tabern said it was a worthy challenge to bring historical details to light that were previously unknown.

“It’s absolutely been exciting, because there’s been a lot written about the Zephyrs, but it seems like the Mark Twain Zephyr was the ‘red-haired stepchild’. There’s books about the Zephyrs, but then when you flip through it, maybe the Mark Twain Zephyr has a page or two — maybe there’s a picture of it when it was in Hannibal,” Tabern said, noting many people were unaware of the train’s vibrant history.

More information and the opportunity to purchase the book and DVD are available by visiting midwestrails.com.

FOR A DIRECT LINK TO THIS ARTICLE:

https://www.hannibal.net/news/local/new-book-dvd-highlight-history-of-mark-twain-zephyr/article_2f46613e-607d-11ed-ac66-2bd306bb07b2.html?fbclid=IwAR33XTIxN19Kwdt3KlMIloIdImPWt2wr6w0Ac-msCVJ0mSpJOFi1jn_GzoA

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #50 – 11/01/22 – Breaking News: National Park to become official sponsor of the Midwest Rail Rangers programs on the South Shore Line

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Happy November everyone… we hope you had a good time with all of the Trick or Treaters coming to your door yesterday. Our favorites are always the kids who are dressed as conductors and engineers, of course!

Anyway, what a way to celebrate our 50th E-Newsletter!

the Midwest Rail Rangers have two major pieces of news to share with you and our other fellow supporters this month. In fact, there is so much news to share — we will be sending you TWO e-Newsletters this month. (As you know, that is rare… as we try and usually send you only one message per month, as not to clog-up your inboxes).

We will announce the first bit of news today… and then follow up with more news next week sometime.

Our first bit of news is that the National Park Service and the Midwest Rail Rangers have signed a formal partnership agreement, where the Indiana Dunes National Park will become an official sponsor of our talks on the South Shore Line. Even though the Indiana Dunes State Park has been one of our sponsors since 2019, the Indiana Dunes National Park is just signing on now. Starting with our next program on November 26, 2022, all South Shore programs will also be sponsored by BOTH the national park and state park. This is super exciting. We wish to thank National Park Service Ranger J.P. Anderson for his support and getting this accomplished. We also want to thank Bruce Rowe and the Superintendent of the Indiana Dunes National Park.

Please take a moment and read the formal release below. And yes, stay tuned for more news and another special e-newsletter next week, too.

Sincerely,
The Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

Robert Tabern, President
Bob Neil, Vice President
Kandace Tabern, Treasurer
Michael Pace, Secretary

Interpretive Guides:
Kathy Bruecker, Fred Glure, Joe Kuczynski and Lowell Olberg

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #49 – 10/19/22 – Make plans to join the Midwest Rail Rangers at Trainfest 2022 in Milwaukee

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

After a long pause, Trainfest is back on… and we hope you will come out and visit with our booth the weekend of Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 and Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, at Wisconsin State Fair Park in Milwaukee.

We have an exciting surprise planned for all — but we have to keep it under wraps until Trainfest kicks off. Just be sure to bring your wallet for a couple of brand new items that will be available for purchase from the Midwest Rail Rangers. That is as much of a hint as we are allowed to share with you right now!! (Of course, we will also have our regular route guide books and other items available for purchase, too, at the MRR booth at Trainfest)

(Details of our announcement at Trainfest will also be sent out to everyone who is subscribed to our e-Newsletter, too, after Trainfest, as we know not everyone is able to travel to Milwaukee).

This will be the first time in four years that the Midwest Rail Rangers have appeared at Trainfest. We were in the process of relocating our headquarters from suburban Milwaukee to Northwest Wisconsin in November 2019 and could not attend Trainfest that year. And then the 2020 and 2021 versions of Trainfest were cancelled due to COVID concerns and some other factors.

We look forward to attending one of the best train shows anywhere in the country and hopefully having a great turnout once again. The Midwest Rail Rangers attend a number of “outreach events” like Trainfest every year to sell our railroad route guidebooks as a fundraiser… and meet with our supporters. It is important to get the word out about what we do.

Meanwhile, our programs continue on the South Shore Line. In fact, we will be headed out tomorrow morning at 8:40am. Programs are currently only operating between Chicago and Gary-Metro Station due to ongoing bussing along the train route. However, we are looking at some changes that may allow us to provide you longer programs, on occasion, before the construction finishes up in early 2024. Stay tuned for details on that.

And remember… as the weather turns colder… and folks tend to stay inside more… you can still enjoy a brand new virtual educational program from the Midwest Rail Rangers every Sunday at 7:00 p.m. Central Time. Next month we will be celebrating our 50th virtual educational program. Details below.

Sincerely,

The Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

Robert Tabern, President

Bob Neil, Vice President

Kandace Tabern, Treasurer

Michael Pace, Secretary

Interpretive Guides:

Kathy Bruecker, Fred Glure, Joe Kuczynski and Lowell Olberg

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #48 – 09/05/22 – Later this month, Join us for special ‘ Midwest Rail Rangers on the Road’ live programs in Indiana & Wisconsin

Monday, September 5, 2022

We hope you are enjoying the last few ‘drops’ of summer here… and trust that you are making special memories during this Labor Day weekend. Believe it or not, we saw a lot of trees starting to change color already in the drive between our headquarters in Northwest Wisconsin and where we are spending the weekend on the shores of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula this weekend. (Hopefully you folks in Chicagoland will not see that for a few more weeks!)

Anyway, we wanted to take a moment and send a personal invitation to you… and your family and friends… to come join the Midwest Rail Rangers for some special in-person outreach programs that we will be doing later this month at the Indiana Dunes National Park in Northwest Indiana and near our headquarters location here in Northwest Wisconsin.

Midwest Rail Rangers President Robert Tabern and Midwest Rail Rangers Treasurer Kandace Tabern will host two presentations about their experiences visiting all 423 units of the National Park Service — with a lot of their travels to the parks taking place on trains, whenever possible. While some parks like Pullman National Monument and the Indiana Dunes National Park are pretty easy to access via automobile or even a hop on the Metra or South Shore Line, that is not the case other parks in the network.

The Taberns will share some of their exciting tales — which include having to hire private bush pilots to reach some of the remote Alaskan parks, a trek through a thick forest full of grizzly bears on the trails, and many other fun challenges in their travels. To reach the goal of visiting all 423 parks in just 10 years time, the Taberns had to travel to all 50 states and even most of the U.S. territories, like Guam, American Samoa, Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

According to the National Park Travelers Club, who keeps track of such things, Midwest Rail Rangers President Robert Tabern and Midwest Rail Rangers Treasurer are just one of about 20 couples or individuals anywhere in the country who have managed to visit all 423 of the park units. They were recently awarded the lifetime platinum plaque award by the National Park Travelers Club for their extensive efforts to promote visiting our county’s national parks.

The Taberns will be giving two presentations in the weeks ahead; both of the presentations are the same, however, since the Midwest Rail Rangers coverage area is so large, we are will be doing one in Indiana and one 450 miles away in Wisconsin, too.

The Taberns will speak at 7:00PM CDT on Saturday, September 10, 2022 at the IDNP Visitor Center (1215 N State Rd 49, Porter, IN 46304).

Robert will also speak at 5:30PM CDT on Wednesday, September 14, 2022 at the Frederic (Wisconsin) Public Library (127 Oak Street in Frederic, Wisconsin). Kandace’s portions will be pre-recorded in this presentation.

Both events are free and open to the public. No need to RSVP.

While we encourage you to come out an see the presentations live… If you are not able to make it out, we plan to tape one of the shows and run them as one of our “Rail Rangers on the Road” virtual educational programs in late 2023.

Sincerely,

The Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

Robert Tabern, President

Bob Neil, Vice President

Kandace Tabern, Treasurer

Michael Pace, Secretary

Interpretive Guides:

Kathy Bruecker, Fred Glure, Joe Kuczynski and Lowell Olberg

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #47 – 8/01/22 – Track Work to Impact Upcoming Rail Rangers South Shore Programs

Monday, August 1, 2022

We hope everyone has been having a fun and memorable summer… but can it really be August already?

Our partners at the NICTD/South Shore Line have been working very hard over the past year  to improve their rail line between Chicago and South Bend. When this project is complete in 2024, there will be long stretches of double track, faster and more reliable service, and a much smoother ride. The Midwest Rail Rangers… along with many South Shore Line riders… are looking forward to the completion of this major construction project in a couple of years.

In order for all of the above benefits to become a reality though, there will have to be some temporary “growing pains”.

Since March 1, 2022, the South Shore Line has been bussing passengers between the Dune Park Station and the Michigan City – Carroll Avenue Station. This has resulted in the Midwest Rail Rangers temporarily scaling back our onboard education programs to operate only between Chicago – Millennium Station and Dune Park (roundtrip) this spring and early summer.

Under normal times, our Interpretive Guides on the South Shore Line “turn” much farther east at either Michigan City-Carroll Avenue or South Bend-Airport Station.

The South Shore Line reconstruction project will enter one of its most intense phases staring in about two weeks. On or about August 15, 2022, South Shore Line passengers will be bussed between Gary and Michigan City. The temporary closure of the rail line is expected to last through Spring 2023. As a result, most upcoming Midwest Rail Rangers onboard education programs on the South Shore Line will only operate from Chicago-Millennium Station to Gary-Metro Station.

Midwest Rail Rangers President Robert Tabern explains, “Sure… on the surface we are disappointed our onboard programs will only operate a short distance between Chicago and Gary this late summer, fall, and winter period. However, we have been partners with the South Shore for over five years now… and hope to continue the partnership for many years to come. Our eyes are on the long-term… improvements for passengers equal many improvements for our talks, too. We look forward to returning to present our regular longer programs to Dune Park, Michigan City, and South Bend when we can… but for the months ahead… we are appreciate of South Shore Line management letting us do programs through to Gary. It makes the most sense not to have Guides aboard buses on a regular basis.”

Neither the Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors, nor the management at NICTD, wanted to suspend onboard ]programs on the South Shore Line during the upcoming construction… especially since programs had to be put on hold for 15 months (March 2020 to July 2021) due to COVID-19.

Planned upcoming South Shore Line Midwest Rail Rangers programs from August 1 to December 31, 2022, are available at:

www.railrangers.org

(click on the “Upcoming Programs” tab)

Bob Neil, Midwest Rail Rangers VP adds, “Besides most South Shore onboard educational programs operating between only Chicago and Gary due to the bussing situation… passengers may notice some other changes in this year’s late summer, fall, and early winter schedule. Our Guides will return to doing occasional weekend programs. We brought back Saturday and Sunday dates at the request of our supporters who wanted both weekday and weekend options. We will also be experimenting by offering some onboard educational programs on later trains. Instead of always leaving Downtown Chicago at 8:40am/8:45am, we will be offering some departures in the late morning and even early afternoon now. We will so how popular this ends up being and factor that in to our 2023 schedules. As always, we do not do programs on ‘peak trains’ during the rush hour… as commuters are not our target audience.”

Due to the changes mentioned above, those who plan to join the Rail Rangers on the South Shore Line in the coming months are encouraged to verify dates and which trains that our Interpretive Guides will be on. Those coming out to experience our programs are also encouraged to re-check the website a few days before the trip to verify there have not been any additional changes. Sometimes last-minute changes to program dates could result due to unexpected changes in bussing and construction activities.

Flexibility will be key in the months ahead… but again…we look forward to a much improved railroad and expanded programs returning when possible.

Oh, and yes… an important “SAVE THE DATE”…  Join Midwest Rail Rangers President Robert Tabern and Midwest Rail Rangers Treasurer Kandace Tabern as they give an hour-long talk at the Indiana Dunes National Park.  The Taberns will speak at 7:00PM CDT on Saturday, September 10, 2022 at the IDNP Visitor Center (1215 N State Rd 49, Porter, IN 46304) about their recent experiences visiting all 423 units of the National Park Service and their volunteer work on the South Shore doing the Rail Rangers program. There is no cost and no RSVP is needed. We will have additional information on this in our September 2022 e-Newsletter, but hope you will consider adding this event to your busy summer calendar now.

Sincerely,

The Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

Robert Tabern, President

Bob Neil, Vice President

Kandace Tabern, Treasurer

Michael Pace, Secretary

Interpretive Guides:

Kathy Bruecker, Fred Glure, Joe Kuczynski and Lowell Olberg

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #46 – 7/05/22 – Sundays in the Sky at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad

Monday, July 5, 2022 

So far this spring and summer, hundreds of passengers have already enjoyed programs presented by the Midwest Rail Rangers aboard the Sky Parlour Car at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad in Trego, Wisconsin. 

Paid passengers who purchase tickets for the Wisconsin Great Northern’s Wine & Cheese Train ($50/per person) get to watch an exclusive nine minute movie about the history of the former Santa Fe Hi-Level Lounge Car / former Amtrak Pacific Parlour Car that was produced in cooperation with the Midwest Rail Rangers. It is shown in the lower level of the car, which was the former Kachina Coffee Shop. The Midwest Rail Rangers also have numerous historical photos and displays for passengers to enjoy aboard the upper level of the car. Also, history books about the car, written by the Midwest Rail Rangers, are for sale onboard and in the Wisconsin Great Northern gift shop for $20 each. 

Select trips may feature a Midwest Rail Rangers docent aboard, too. 

The Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad has been partners with the Midwest Rail Rangers since Fall 2019.

“The sweeping views you get from several points on the train… along with the tasty wine and delicious artisan cheese… and just the fun laid-back small group atmosphere of the train really adds up to a special one-of-a-kind experience”, says Harold Silverstein, who recently make the five-hour drive from Chicago to take the Wisconsin Great Northern’s Wine and Cheese Train.

“The Wine and Cheese Train has something to offer for everyone”, explains Wisconsin Great Northern’s Director of Passenger Development. “We have a cross-section of passengers aboard each week. This includes local couples looking for something fun to do on a Sunday afternoon… and day trippers from the Twin Cities, Duluth, Eau Claire, and other areas. It is also becoming a popular must-do ‘girls’ weekend’ activity up here in the Northwoods.”

The Wine and Cheese Train car is unique, in that it has seating on two levels. The top features a double row of windows for outstanding sightseeing; the bottom serves as a rebuilt as a 20-seat movie theater on wheels.

This train car was even featured in several movies and television programs over the years.

Wisconsin Great Northern’s Wine and Cheese Train operates every Sunday at 11:00am and 2:00pm through October 30th. Tickets are $50 per person and are available at www.SpoonerTrainRide.com, or by calling (715) 635-3200. Advanced reservations are required and seating is limited. It is highly recommended that passengers book now for the anticipated busy ‘fall color trips’ ahead in September and October.

Sincerely,
The Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

Robert Tabern, President
Bob Neil, Vice President
Kandace Tabern, Treasurer
Michael Pace, Secretary
Interpretive Guides:
Kathy Bruecker, Fred Glure, Joe Kuczynski and Lowell Olberg

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #45 – 6/06/22 – 20th Century Partnership Trips to Galena, Lake Geneva & East Troy This Summer

Monday, June 6, 2022

We are pleased to announce that the Midwest Rail Rangers will partner with the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago on two additional trips later this year.

Here’s the details:

TRIP #22-D

Saturday, August 27, 2022

East Troy & Lake Geneva Trip

Board a motor coach with friends and family to take you to enjoy the East Troy Electric Railroad Museum and a vintage trolley ride, then move on to a pleasure cruise aboard one of Lake Geneva’s sightseeing vessels for a journey around the shoreline of Lake Geneva. Includes: Roundtrip Motorcoach, Admissions, Boat Ride and Box Lunch.

For fares and more information about this trip… click here!

TRIP #22-E

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Galena Country Fair Trip

Considered one of Galena’s most popular events, Galena Country Fair features more than 150 art, craft and fine art vendors selling high quality, original, handmade items. There will be food vendors offering chicken and pork chop sandwiches, baked potatoes, brats, tacos, caramel apples, homemade fudge, sundaes, and more. There is also a selection of domestic and local craft beers, plus a Gazebo Wine Garden serving Galena Cellars, white, red, sangria and more. For entertainment, there will be live music, Irish Dance performances, silent auction, raffle and more.

For fares and more information about this trip… click here!

Please note that these are mainly motor coach trips, however both excursions will feature Midwest Rail Rangers Interpretive Guides aboard. Reservations are handled exclusively by the 20th Century Railroad Club. Please DO NOT contact the Midwest Rail Rangers to make reservations for these trips, as we are not handling ticketing or reservations.

Meanwhile… we also look forward to seeing you aboard our South Shore Line program excursions this year, too, between Downtown Chicago and Dune Park. Upcoming program dates are: June 14, June 23, July 12, July 21, August 2, and August 25. Learn about the interesting landmarks on the South Side of Chicago and in Northwest Indiana. These programs are co-sponsored by the Indiana Dunes State Park and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

We will also be presenting programs at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad every Sunday between now and October 2nd. Paid passengers with valid tickets/reservations ($50 per person) on the Sunday 11AM & 2PM Wine & Cheese Train will get to watch an exclusive nine-minute movie about the railroad’s Sky Parlour Car produced by the Midwest Rail Rangers. Passengers will also have the chance to view a historical exhibit and scrapbook about the history of the car… which once served as a Hi-Level Lounge on the Santa Fe and on Amtrak as a Pacific Parlour Car. The Midwest Rail Rangers has been partners with the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad in Trego, WI since 2019.

There is so much going on with the Rail Rangers this summer — and we want you to be part of the fun — whether that is a 20th Century Railroad Club Trip, our regular South Shore programs, the Sky Parlour programs in Northwestern Wisconsin, or our virtual programs and more.

Have a great June!

Sincerely,

The Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

Robert Tabern, President

Bob Neil, Vice President

Kandace Tabern, Treasurer

Michael Pace, Secretary

Interpretive Guides:

Kathy Bruecker, Fred Glure, Joe Kuczynski and Lowell Olberg

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #44 – 5/09/22 – Rail Rangers Share History at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad

Monday, May 9, 2022

For the first time in 26 months… the Wisconsin Great Northern, a tourist railroad in Northwest Wisconsin that partners with the Midwest Rail Rangers, is resuming passenger train operations later this week.

Paid ticket holders for the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad’s Wine & Cheese Train will have the opportunity to view an exclusive new nine-minute movie that was produced in cooperation with the Midwest Rail Rangers. It covers the history of the 1956 double-decker lounge car that was used on the Santa Fe’s El Capitan train and on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight as a Pacific Parlour Car… but now hosts wine and cheese tastings at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad. The movie will be shown before trips depart in the lower-level movie theater section of the car that once housed the historic Santa Fe Kachina Coffee Shop.

The Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad is the only place in the country offering regular weekly trips on any of the six former Amtrak Pacific Parlour Cars. Two other cars are located in Texas and two others are in Michigan; however, they are currently only used by those railroads around the Christmas holidays. A fifth car has remained parked in a train yard outside of St. Louis for nearly 20 years and is not in operable condition.

Ticket holders for the Wine & Cheese Train at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad will also have the opportunity to flip through a historical scrapbook aboard the car (pictured above) that was assembled by the Midwest Rail Rangers. It is truly one-of-a-kind and features many original papers and photographs from the 66-year history of the car.

Select trips later in 2022 may also feature a Midwest Rail Rangers Interpretive Guide to further enhance passengers’ trips. You may recall that our Guides rode along on several trips aboard the car and held an “open house event” in Fall 2019, prior to the COVID-19 passenger train shutdown.

Those who are interested in the history of the car will also have the opportunity to purchase a copy of the Midwest Rail Rangers’ Sky Parlour book, which was published in Fall 2019. The railroad will be selling copies of the book for $20 onboard both the train and in the depot gift shop (located at N6639 Dilly Lake Road in Trego, Wisconsin).

Speaking of books, the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad’s gift shop also reopens tomorrow and will once again be the exclusive physical retail location of the Midwest Rail Rangers’ popular Outside the Rails railroad route guidebooks. Stop by during their regular business hours and purchase a book to learn more about a particular train route in the Midwest. It will enhance your trip so much more to know about everything out your window. We will also be selling our Junior Rail Rangers books in the gift shop.

There is a lot of excitement going on at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad!

To participate, click below to purchase your tickets from the WGNRR… seats are only $50 per person and include a two-hour train ride, plus four different kinds of Wisconsin wine… plus some great cheese and more. Trips will take place Sundays at 11:00AM and 2:00PM between May 15th and October 30th.

https://spoonertrainride.com/train-rides/sky-parlour-wine-cheese-train/

We are proud to once again have the opportunity to share the history with the passengers at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad. Be sure to check out their other trains, too, including the popular Bed & Breakfast Train, Dinner Train, Family Pizza Train, Santa Trains, and restoration of the Mark Twain Zephyr.

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #43 – 4/02/22 – Summer 2022 Schedules for 20th Century & South Shore; Join us Next Weekend in Green Bay

Saturday, April 2, 2022

As the warm weather slowly begins to arrive, things are once again picking up for the Midwest Rail Rangers… as we roll into our 8th Season of doing onboard educational programs. We are happy to announce our 20th Century Railroad Club and South Shore Line partner Spring/Summer 2022 schedules are approved and ready for release. We also would like to invite you to visit our booth next weekend at a train show in Green Bay.

Let’s start with the 20th Century Railroad Club trips. For 51 years now, the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago has been offering fun and exciting rail or motor coach trips for both its members and the general public. The Midwest Rail Rangers have had a partnership with the 20th Century for the past 5 years, where we either staff their trips with an Interpretive Guides who provides narration… and/or we provide route guide handouts for passengers.

This year will be once again be no exception… as the 20th Century returns to doing its popular trips following a two-year hiatus. The first trip takes place on Saturday, May 14, 2022 and is called the “Indiana Doubleheader” and will feature a visit to the Hoosier Valley RR Museum and the Monon Connection Museum. Midwest Rail Rangers Vice President Robert Neil will be your Rail Rangers Guide for the day. The second trip takes place on Saturday, June 25, 2022 and will take passengers to Galesburg Railroad Days. This year, you will have an option to head directly to Galesburg… or take a tour of three historic railroad towns and depots. The Midwest Rail Rangers will be providing handout route guides for passengers on this trip. Finally, the third trip is three days / two nights and runs from Friday, July 15, 2022 to Sunday, July 17, 2022. We will ride the Boone & Scenic Railway, visit the Amana Colonies and the Threshers Heritage Museum. The Midwest Rail Rangers will be providing handout route guides for passengers on this trip, too. Links to more information about the tours can be found below. The 20th Century Railroad Club is a valuable partner of the Midwest Rail Rangers and we look forward to making memories for passengers together for years to come.

As mentioned, late spring and summer 2022 dates for Midwest Rail Rangers programs on the South Shore Line have been approved. Our next three program dates are below. Our complete schedule through August is available on our website, www.railrangers.org. Due to ongoing track work this summer, our South Shore Line programs will ONLY operate from Downtown Chicago to Dune Park… and then from Dune Park back to Downtown Chicago. We will be using eastbound Train #7, which departs Chicago-Millennium Station at 8:45am and arrives in Dune Park at 10:03am. Guides will hold an informal “open house” at the Dune Park station from 10:15am to 11:00am. We will then be using westbound Train #116, which departs Dune Park at 11:13am, and arrives back in Chicago at 12:39pm. Looking ahead, at this point we plan to resume through programs to Michigan City and South Bend between November 2022 and February 2023. When track work picks up again next year and bussing is anticipated to be extended, we will do a mix of shorter and longer programs depending on the season. Because construction work can be quite fluid, it is recommended that riders who specifically plan on traveling to hear our programs always check our website a few days before the trip to make sure there are not any last minute schedule changes.

Finally, we hope you will join us next weekend for one of our last outreach events of the winter season. The Midwest Rail Rangers will have its own booth for the first time at the Titletown Train Show at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Come out from 9am-5pm on Saturday, April 9th… or 9am-4pm on Sunday, April 10th. We will have Interpretive Guides available to talk to you about the many interesting parts of our onboard educational programs. We will also have samples of our popular railroad route guide books which you can then purchase online (get them ahead of your summer trips!)

We love being busy… and hope you will be part of our exciting summer season!

Oh, and don’t forget to watch our newest online virtual program tomorrow night (Sunday, April 3) at 7:00pm CT… we are sharing the second part of our ride on the Texas Eagle from Los Angeles to St. Louis. Here’s the link you will need:

Sincerely,

Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

Robert Tabern – President

Bob Neil – Vice-President

Kandace Tabern – Treasurer & Educational Officer

Michael Pace – Secretary

Interpretive Guides:

Kathy Bruecker, Fred Glure, Joe Kuczynski, Lowell Olberg & Steve Snyder

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #42 – 3/10/22 – South Shore Track Work Changes 2022 Midwest Rail Rangers Programs

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Happy March!

In case you haven’t heard… “street running” in Michigan City, Indiana on the South Shore Line is officially a thing of the past. Midwest Rail Rangers Vice President Bob Neil ended up hosting our last onboard educational program on the South Shore that featured “street running” at the end of February.

At one time, the South Shore also operated on local roadways in East Chicago and South Bend, too. However, that was eliminated in the 1950s and 1970s respectively. The “street running” on the South Shore Line down 10th and 11th Street in Michigan City is being cut to speed up service between Chicago and South Bend. While most everyone welcomes the quicker time-keeping, a piece of history is also being lost unfortunately. The South Shore Line has been called ‘America’s Last Interurban Railroad’ due to the street running in Michigan City.

The on-going track work for this project will also have a big impact on those who ride the South Shore Line during the months ahead. According to NICTD, which operates the South Shore Line, ALL passengers on ALL trains will be bussed between the Dune Park Station and the Michigan City-Carroll Avenue Station. This will allow for the building of the new track, just off the street, through significant portions of Michigan City. This bussing will last through Fall 2022.

After much consultation with NICTD, the Midwest Rail Rangers Board has decided that our onboard educational programs will only operate between Chicago and the Dune Park Station this spring, summer, and fall.

Midwest Rail Rangers President Robert Tabern explains, “The seats on the bus between Dune Park and Michigan City should be for paid passengers… and we would not do narration on a bus anyway… so until through trains resume this fall… our programs will be from Downtown Chicago to Dune Park and back. We look forward to returning back to our longer program schedule to Michigan City and South Bend in seven or eight months from now. We very much appreciate the NICTD allowing us to continue to do our onboard educational programs on the train when so many other components going on right now with the busing.”

One of the positive things of the temporary schedule is it will allow Midwest Rail Rangers Interpretive Guides to have an informal “meet and greet” with people at the Dune Park Station from 10:15am to 11:00am on days the programs will be given. Even people who do not ride the train can come out to the train station located near U.S. 12 and Indiana Highway 49 and meet the Rail Rangers and learn more about the programs on the train.

The Midwest Rail Rangers’ South Shore Line schedule in March and April has been adjusted (see below). Our May through August schedule will be posted in a few weeks from now. Programs will be presented mainly on weekdays this spring, summer, and fall… until programs resume to Michigan City/South Bend.

Sincerely,

Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

Robert Tabern – President

Bob Neil – Vice-President

Kandace Tabern – Treasurer & Educational Officer

Michael Pace – Secretary

Interpretive Guides:

Kathy Bruecker, Fred Glure, Joe Kuczynski, Lowell Olberg & Steve Snyder