Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #18 — Working with Our Partners to Plan 2020 Excursions — January 19, 2020

January, February, and even into early March might come across to our followers as a “slow time” for the Midwest Rail Rangers… because our public schedule is really just dotted with a few South Shore trips… and that’s about it. While that is true to a degree… things are really at their busiest “behind the scenes” this time of the year for our Board of Directors. We have been working hard with all of our partners over the past few weeks to discuss what trips and events worked well in 2019… how we can improve on what we did last year… and what fun and exciting things we will be working together towards in the year ahead. Right now, we are just a few weeks away from announcing some of our first trips for 2020 that you will want to mark on your calendar and snag reservations for. We invite you to come out to the 2020 Mad City Rail Show on Saturday, February 15, 2020 and Sunday, February 16, 2020 to meet some of our Board Members and participate in the reveal of some of our destinations and trips for the coming year. If you’re not able to make it up to the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, WI that weekend… we will send you the information in our next E-Newsletter!

Our areas of focus for 2020 will continue to be our onboard educational programs that are offered on the South Shore Line approximately two to three weekends per month year-round. Our volunteers enjoy presenting programs for passengers on this line because there is always so much to talk about going on outside the windows. In just 90 miles, or a little over two hours, we travel from the third largest city in the country (Chicago) to the rural farmlands of St. Joseph County. Along the way, we are passing through four state park areas, two units of the National Park Service, and two affiliated NPS units. We will be working with the Indiana Dunes State Park more closely in 2020 to train our Midwest Rail Rangers volunteers — more details on this coming out soon in a future E-Newsletter!

Another area of focus in 2020 for the Midwest Rail Rangers is expanding our partnership with our friends at the family-owned Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad in Trego, Wisc. As you probably know, to become a truly “Midwest” (and not just a Chicago) organization, we moved our headquarters last month to Northwest Wisconsin.  The Wisconsin Great Northern acquired a Santa Fe Hi-Level Lounge Car / Amtrak Pacific Parlour Car last year. We did a couple of ‘test runs’ with them on weekends in which we created displays aboard the car featuring Santa Fe and Amtrak sistory. These event were a great success and featured between 200 and 300 visitors who traveled from all across the area to see our displays. We look forward to hosting more events aboard the WGNRR’s Sky Parlour in 2020.  We hope to have some firm dates worked out soon. Rides on the Sky Parlour will begin in early May 2020. This is a fun and growing railroad — and is well worth the drive up from the Chicago and Milwaukee areas.

We will also be working with the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago again… with our Interpretive Guides riding along and providing narration on many of their 2020 excursions once again. We have worked with their management and trip organizer team and have narrowed down our list of 2020 destinations. Trips will include a round-trip down to St. Louis in the spring… a trip to Galesburg and Peoria in June… and the premiere trip of the season will likely be a September four day, three night trip to several tourist railroads in Northwest Wisconsin and Minnesota. Plus, much more!   Stay tuned… as will begin promoting our 20th Century RR Club partner trips next month.

And last but not least — we will continue to provide our signature educational programs on private rail excursions in 2020, as well. As you may know… we founded the Rail Rangers almost 5 years ago now with the sole goal of providing programs on private rail excursions. However, in 2018 and 2019, Amtrak put severe restrictions on private car movements… while also exponentially increasing the cost for the fine men, women, and groups who own these cars. This does not look like it will change for 2020 at this point. With that said, know we are committed to working with our private rail partners as much as possible over the coming year to help design and promote their trips as much as we can. Whenever one of these trips is announced, we will send out special E-Newsletters so you on our supporters list can get the first dibs on tickets.

Sincerely,

Robert Tabern, MRR President

& the Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

 

2020 Donations Welcome!

In addition to the beginning quarter of every year being very busy “behind the scenes”… it is also the time of the year that the Midwest Rail Rangers incurs some of its biggest expenses. In fact, our single biggest regular expense every year is our insurance policy which comes up for renewal every February.. Many of our partners require the RailRangers to have a pretty pricey liability insurance policy in place. Without it… we wouldn’t be allowed on their railroad equipment to provide the talks, narration, and educational activities that you have come to enjoy.

Donations (cash, charge, Paypal, etc.) in ANY amount are appreciated and will help fund our on-board educational programs. And of course, with the Midwest Rail Rangers being a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization… the amount you donate is tax deductible. We are more than happy to provide a donation receipt upon request.

The best way to make a donation is to head to our website… www.RailRangers.org. Then, click on the icon in the lower left side that says “Support our Onboard Educational Programs” / “Make a Donation – Click Here”. Credit cards and Pay Pal are accepted here.

You can also just click the link at the TOP or BOTTOM of this E-Newsletter.

We also accept donations of historical railroad memorabilia!  If you have something that you think might be of interest to our organization, contact our Board of Directors at board@railrangers.org. If the donation is needed, it will be fully tax deductible at fair market value. Earlier this year, we had a gentleman from Indiana donate his collection of nearly 100 old South Shore Line timetables. Currently, we are in need of items relating to the South Shore Line (especially from the 1920’s to 1940’s era)… and anything relating to the Santa Fe Hi-Level lounge cars and Amtrak’s Pacific Parlour Cars.
We put these items on display during select onboard educational programs and outreach events so everyone can enjoy them.

Winter & Early Spring 2020 South Shore Dates Posted

While the winter and early spring is often the “quiet time” for the Midwest Rail Rangers (this allows us to focus on working with our private rail and other partners and re-doing our rail route guides)… our South Shore Line programs continue two to three weekends per month. Having a year-round presence on a railroad is something that is very important to our organization.

Program dates through April 30, 2020 are posted at www.RailRangers.org.

All eastbound programs begin at 8:40am CST out of Millennium Station at Michigan & Randolph in Downtown Chicago.  All westbound programs begin at 1:05pm EST out of South Bend Airport. You can of course join us at any point along the route — but note seating is ONLY available on a first come, first serve basis.

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #17 — Merry Christmas from the Midwest Rail Rangers / 2019 Year in Review — December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas & Happy New Years from the Midwest Rail Rangers

The Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors and our Interpretive Guides would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year!  The holidays are a very special time — and we want to take a few minutes to thank you right here on Christmas Eve morning for your support in 2019.

Since this will also be our final E-Newsletter sent out to our supporters in 2019, we also decided to take a minute and look back at what was a very monumental and pivotal year for our 501(c)(3) non-profit organization – and where things stand as we head into a new decade! We no doubt had a very fun and action-packed past 358 days… and we sincerely hope that you were able to take part in at least one of our partners’ excursions or one of our outreach events.
You may recall that 2019 started with the Midwest Rail Rangers becoming its own independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. For the initial almost four years of its existence, the Rail Rangers had been associated with a railroad historical group in Missouri. As our goals for became increasingly different that that of our former parent organization – it was clear in late 2018 that it was in everyone’s best interest to file the paperwork needed to become our own independent group. This process was completed following the government shutdown that took place for most of January 2019… and has been no doubt a very necessary move for the future of the Rail Rangers. It let our newly formed Board have local control over the organization and its finances… and focus strictly on our mission of providing onboard educational programs for passengers. I would like to take a minute and thank my fellow 2019 Board Members — this includes Vice President Robert Neil, Treasurer Dave Poole, Secretary Kathy Brucker, and Educational Officer Kandace Tabern — for going above and beyond this year. The first year of any new organization is no doubt the most challenging and stressful and our team met each and every challenge head-on and got everything and anything asked of them accomplished in record time. The transformation of the Rail Rangers into its own entity would no doubt have gone as smoothly without their hard work – and the hard work of all of our Interpretive Guides and you, our faithful supporters.
The middle portion of the year saw tremendous growth for the Midwest Rail Rangers once again — with the addition of three new partners. In the spring, we formed a partnership agreement with Keith White — owner of the beautiful private car “Hollywood Beach”. This led to us providing onboard educational programs aboard a number of his private railroad excursions — including a round-trip to Carbondale and one-way trips down to St. Louis and Kansas City. If you rode with us this year, you will agree the “Hollywood Beach” might be one of the finest single-level observation cars around… with Keith being one of the nicest and most down-to-earth private car owners. We also formed a partnership agreement with Blue Pine Rail, a start-up group out of Northwest Indiana that provided a private car charter on the final run of Amtrak’s Hoosier State over the summer between Indianapolis and Chicago. This group is run by two gentlemen in their early 20’s who no doubt have a bright future in historical railroading in the Chicagoland area. Finally, in the fall, we formed a new partnership with the family-run Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad. They have been in business for 23 years now with their popular bed and breakfast/dinner trains, but have just acquired a former Santa Fe Hi-Level lounge car/Amtrak Pacific Parlour Car. We had the opportunity to do one “test run” with them in October where we set up various Santa Fe and Amtrak memorabilia aboard their car and welcomed passengers aboard open-house style while parked at the depot in Trego, Wisconsin. We had somewhere between 200 and 300 visitors — some coming from as far as the Twin Cities and Chicago to attend. We very much appreciate these three new partners (as well as all of our other returning partners such as Zephyr Route, Friends of the 261, Paxrail, 20th Century Railroad Club, Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, the South Shore Line/NICTD, Iowa Pacific, etc.) and are excited about what 2020 will bring with each of these great organizations.
One of our main focuses for the last quarter of 2019 has been on re-locating the Midwest Rail Rangers Headquarters/Office from Elm Grove, Wisconsin (suburban Milwaukee) to Barron, Wisconsin (about 90 minutes away from the Twin Cities). Once we are finished unpacking and getting settled in… we will have approximately three times the office space than we have had in the past. This will allow us to have more room to administer all things Rail Rangers related… as we begin our 5th full year of operations. Things went well with the initial move on December 8, 2019 and we hope to have our office up and running fully by Monday, January 6, 2020. Relocating to Northwest Wisconsin means we will closer to our new partner — the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad — as we look forward to doing many more educational programs aboard their Sky Parlour Car starting up again in the Spring. We will also be closer to the Twin Cities — where a lot of private rail equipment is housed (much more than Chicago!).  While two of our staff members will be relocating as a result… most of our crew and our Board will remain in the Chicago/Milwaukee areas… as they remain close to the South Shore Line program and our other endeavors. Simply put, this move will benefit the organization — and let us truly be the MIDWEST Rail Rangers — instead of just being mainly focused on just Chicago-based activities.
Finally, our whole Board and all of our Interpretive Guides (and hopefully you, too!) are looking forward to whatever 2020 will bring. We expect to continue to offer our on-board educational programs on the South Shore Line between Chicago, Illinois and South Bend, Indiana two to three times per month year-round throughout 2020. This has been one of our most popular features for the Midwest Rail Rangers over the past three years — and our contract with the South Shore extends into 2021 now. Starting in 2020, we will be partnering with the Indiana Dunes State Park to better educate our Guides — and promote our program dates. We’ll have more on this for you in one of our future E-Newsletters when more details are worked out — but this is something new and exciting to look forward to as we flip our calendars. The goal will be to have our programs on the South Shore be official state park interpretive programs and be on their online calendar. Meanwhile, our Board is already well into discussions with our private rail partners and the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago to provide you with fun and exciting trip destinations. Some of the trips being discussed include excursions to St. Louis, Michigan, Northwest Wisconsin, and much, much more. We understand that 2020 may be another difficult year for private railcar owners and excursion organizers as Amtrak’s restrictions on where cars can operate to continue… but we… and our partners are going to do whatever they can to continue to provide you with fun trips to ride along on — and we will work our hardest to bring you the fun and educational commentary you have grown to expect from us. Last but not least, this will be the first full year that the Wisconsin Great Northern will operate its Sky Parlour Car service — and we will soon be hammering out our schedule of dates our Guides will be at the railroad to share the car’s exciting and rich history. We hope you will make the trek up to Trego, Wisconsin in 2020 and attend one of the weekends the Rail Rangers will be helping out share more about these rare and historical lounge cars that once graced the Santa Fe’s El Capitan and Amtrak’s Coast Starlight.
If you have any questions or suggestions, we’re always here to listen to you!  Just drop us an e-mail at board@railrangers.org and we promise you a quick and prompt reply. Please keep checking our main website (www.RailRangers.org) in the months ahead as we begin to post confirmed trip dates. Updates will be sent via E-Newsletter, too.  You can also show your support for the Midwest Rail Rangers by purchasing our railroad route guide books, e-books, or podcasts to take along on your next personal railroad trip.  It’s almost like having someone narrate to you aboard the train! – they are that good. And your purchases help support our 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and keep things rolling.  The Midwest Rail Rangers Store can be accessed 24-7 at www.MidwestRails.com!
We hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas, Holiday, and New Year!

Sincerely, Robert Tabern – MRR President

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #16 — Happy Thanksgiving from the Midwest Rail Rangers — November 26, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving from the Midwest Rail Rangers

As we are sitting down to dinner with our family and friends tonight… the Midwest Rail Rangers would like to take a quick “time out” and wish you and your family and friends a HAPPY THANKSGIVING.

We are truly thankful for your support over the past almost five years now!  Without your interest in our on-board educational programs and your generous donations… our 501(c)(3) non-profit organization would not be where it is today.

As the Rail Rangers prepares to celebrate its 5th Anniversary in 2020… we are very humble and grateful for your support at all levels. We hope you will ride with us again in the New Year… as we hope to begin releasing more program dates in the months ahead on the South Shore, at the Wisconsin Great Northern (Sky Parlour), private rail trips, 20th Century Railroad Club Amtrak coach charters, and outreach events.

Reminder: Donations for 2019 Tax Year!

 If you are interested in making a donation to the Midwest Rail Rangers and having it count on your 2019 taxes — this is just a reminder than you have only 32 days left to make your contribution.

 

Donations (cash, charge, Paypal, etc.) in ANY amount are appreciated and will help fund our on-board educational programs. And of course, with the Midwest Rail Rangers being a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization… the amount you donate is tax deductible. We are more than happy to provide a donation receipt upon request.

The best way to make a donation is to head to our website… www.RailRangers.org. Then, click on the icon in the lower left side that says “Support our Onboard Educational Programs” / “Make a Donation – Click Here”. Credit cards and Pay Pal are accepted here.

You can also just click the link at the TOP or BOTTOM of this E-Newsletter.

We also accept donations of historical railroad memorabilia!  If you have something that you think might be of interest to our organization, contact our Board of Directors at board@railrangers.org. If the donation is needed, it will be fully tax deductible at fair market value. Earlier this year, we had a gentleman from Indiana donate his collection of nearly 100 old South Shore Line timetables. Currently, we are in need of items relating to the South Shore Line (especially from the 1920’s to 1940’s era)… and anything relating to the Santa Fe Hi-Level lounge cars and Amtrak’s Pacific Parlour Cars.

We put these items on display during select onboard educational programs and outreach events so everyone can enjoy them.

Moving Update & New Address!

As you may have read in our E-Newsletter sent about four weeks ago, the Midwest Rail Rangers has officially relocated our business office… from Elm Grove, Wisconsin (which is about 10 miles west of Downtown Milwaukee) to Barron, Wisconsin (which is about 90 minutes northwest of the Twin Cities).

 

The bulk of the move of our office equipment and records, etc. will take place on Monday, December 2nd and Tuesday, December 3rd. So, if you do contact us this week… please allow us a few days to respond… as our internet and other services also will take a couple of days to transfer between our old location and our new location.

However, our new post office box is fully up and running for your communication needs:

Midwest Rail Rangers

P.O. Box 184

Barron, WI  54812

Please do not send any mail to our old post office box in Elm Grove, WI… as it has already been closed down and mail will take an additional 2-3 days to be forwarded up to Barron, WIsconsin.

We hope to be fully up and running in Barron around December 18th.

We are excited about this move — as it will allow for a much larger space for our Board to administer the ever-growing Midwest Rail Rangers team.

While some of our Board members will be re-locating to NW Wisconsin, most of our Guides will be remaining in the Chicago area… and the quantity and quality of our programs will no doubt change.

By late spring, we even hope to have a visitor area on our new HQ’s property where people can come and check out more about the Rail Rangers by appointment.

 

 Join the Midwest Rail Rangers at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad on Saturday, December 7!
 
One last note — we hope you will come out to the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad on Saturday, December 7th and meet five of our Midwest Rail Rangers Interpretive Guides!

 

In anticipation of our HQ’s move to Barron, Wisconsin… and our exciting new partnership with the Wisconsin Great Northern (where we’ll be doing onboard educational programs on their Sky Parlour Car again coming this Spring!)… five of our Guides will be helping out with the 2:00pm Santa Pizza Train.  (Guides may also ride either the 11:00am or 5:30pm train, too!)

The Wisconsin Great Northern’s Santa’s Pizza Party is a popular way to celebrate the holiday season with your kids because it combines everyone’s favorite meal with a scenic train ride and a visit with Santa. Your ticket aboard Santa’s Pizza Party includes the 2 hour train ride, 1/2 pizza per person and your first soda, a visit with Santa in his private car, and a holiday cookie and hot chocolate on the return trip. (Family rate includes 2 adults and 3-5 children, 2 pizzas and a soda for each person.) Make your reservations for this family favorite.

Pizza comes 1/2 Sausage and 1/2 Pepperoni. Cheese pizza may be ordered in advance. Please call the WGN office at 715-635-3200 or add a comment at time of ordering online. Pizza will be ordered before your arrival at our station and will not be able to be changed at that time.

Tickets are very limited at this time for all departures.

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #15 — Midwest Rail Rangers Moving Headquarters to Barron, Wisconsin — November 4, 2019

Here is a look at some of the news items that we shared with subscribers of the Midwest Rail Rangers E-Newsletter on Monday, November 4, 2019:

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The MRR Headquarters is Moving

Sometimes the most exciting things in life are the unexpected… and that no doubt applied to the Midwest Rail Rangers in 2019… as we gained a major new partner that we were not expecting this time last year… the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad and their Sky Parlour. This new partnership is exciting… and will actually result in our headquarters city moving to Northwest Wisconsin in the coming weeks… so that our Interpretive Guides can have a bigger presence on the car and at the railroad in 2020. (Don’t worry, we will still continue with all of our Chicago-based on-board programs, too!)

Here’s the exciting details and how it all happened:

For a period of time… the Midwest Rail Rangers have maintained historical passenger train websites for people to browse through and enjoy —– such as LoungeCars.com, AmtrakDome.com, and PacificParlourCar.com… among others. One of the individuals who liked reading our websites was the owner of the family-operated Wisconsin Northern Railroad. So, when his organization (based in Trego, Wisconsin) ended up the successful bidder of a former Amtrak Pacific Parlour Car in April 2019… the Midwest Rail Rangers were among the first organizations contacted.

During this past spring and summer… the Midwest Rail Rangers and the Wisconsin Great Northern worked hand-in-hand to develop a fun program that could be presented to passengers on the former Pacific Parlour Car (now called a Sky Parlour Car) — whether people were riding or open houses were held on select weekends. Our first “open house” aboard the Sky Parlour took place on Saturday, October 5, 2019… and was a humungous success with more than 200 people showing up to take a tour through the car — looking at our exhibits of old Santa Fe and Amtrak memorabilia. Some people came from as far away as Eau Claire, the Twin Cities, and Chicago. We were simply in awe how many other people had special memories made aboard this car over the years.

After a successful “dry run” last month… we look forward to expanding and enhancing our partnership with the Wisconsin Great Northern beginning this spring. In addition to our talks two to three weekends per month on the South Shore — educational programs at the Wisconsin Great Northern on the Sky Parlour will be one of the two primary focuses in 2020 for the Midwest Rail Rangers. Expect to find Midwest Rail Rangers Guides at the WGNRR on select weekends between May and November 2020… with our schedule to be release in the coming months.

And… with that… our HQ move.

As the Wisconsin Great Northern’s Sky Parlour will become a significant point of focus for the Midwest Rail Rangers in the new year — our Board of Directors has decided to re-locate our official headquarters city — effective in a few weeks from now. We will be leaving Elm Grove, Wisconsin in the western suburbs of Milwaukee… and moving 300 miles northwest… to put down new stakes in Barron, Wisconsin — located along the historic Soo Line about 90 minutes east/northeast of the Twin Cities. (The town’s depot has even been renovated into a very nice coffee house!)

While our President will be relocating, too, you really won’t notice many changes to our programs. Most of our Interpretive Guides will be remaining down in the Chicagoland area… and yes… we will still be offering just as many programs on the South Shore as we did last year despite the move. We will also be working hard to have our guides be on board as many private rail excursions as possible in 2020. And the real win-win… is we will have a couple of our Interpretive Guides working just down the road from the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad too, now, to offer more regular programs to those of you who live in Northwest Wisconsin and Eastern Minnesota.

The only real change you will notice is our mailing address.

If you need to send us “snail mail”… starting November 8th… please use P.O. Box 184 Barron, WI 54812.

To celebrate our headquarters move… we will have five of our Midwest Rail Rangers docents meeting and greeting passengers at the Wisconsin Great Northern on Saturday, December 7th. Meet us before, during, or after their 11AM and 2PM “Pizza with Santa” train rides (tickets are going fast!)

Our move to Barron, Wisconsin also allows us to have more office space as the Rail Rangers enters its 5th year of operations — and continues to grow our services. We are even hoping to have a small varea (open by May 2020) to greet visitors by appointment. More details on this in our Winter and Spring E-Newsletters ahead on how this is all going to work.

Got a Suggestion for a 2020 Private Rail Excursion?

As just about all of the leaves are now done falling from the trees… and the first snowfall of the year hit some parts of the Midwest on the last day of October… things will begin slowing down a bit for the Midwest Rail Rangers in the months ahead (with the exception of our move!) This isn’t really a bad thing though — as the fall and winter months are typically used as a “time out” to plan out all of the exciting trips for the upcoming year.

After memorable private rail car excursions this spring and summer with Keith White’s “Hollywood Beach”, Zephyr Route tours, and Blue Pine Rail — the Midwest Rail Rangers and our private car partners want to know where you want to go in 2020 in a vintage observation car from the 1950’s or 1960’s. If you have any trip ideas, drop us an e-mail soon at board@railrangers.org. Your feedback is very important in the planning process… and any creative (but practical!) ideas you have will be passed along to the appropriate private rail car owner(s). Trips this year have included such destinations as Chicago, St. Louis, Carbondale, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Lafayette (Indiana), Milwaukee, and the Twin Cities. We hope to offer some new choices in 2020. As you are likely aware… Amtrak has both raised the costs on private car owners to run their car, while also severely limiting destinations and when private cars can run on the back of trains. This has caused many private rail car owners to sell off their cars, permanently park their cars, and/or cut back on the number of excursions offered to the public. Sadly, the Midwest Rail Rangers has also been impacted — with a lot less onboard educational programs offered in 2019 aboard private cars compared to the years past. We expect this trend to continue into 2020… however… know our Board of Directors remain committed to having the private car component be at least part of our overall mission — and we look forward to working with any and all operators bringing private car excursions through the Midwest. The best way to find out about upcoming private railcar trips with Midwest Rail Rangers volunteers aboard is to remain on our e-newsletter list. We hope to begin announcing some new private car trips around February or March 2020… however a lot depends on our private car partners who are responsible for organizing the trips.

Do You Also Have A Suggestion for a 20th Century Railroad Club Trip for 2020? We’re All Ears!

The Midwest Rail Rangers also had another exciting season partnering with the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago on their Amtrak coach train/motorcoach charters.The 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago has been the premiere railroad club of Chicago to be a member of since 1971… and we are very proud to have our Interpretive Guides provide narration and the route guides for most of their shorter two and three day trips. In fact, two of our guides were aboard just last weekend with the 20th Century Railroad Club — heading down to Carbondale on the Saluki for a two-day motorcoach tour of the Illinois Ozarks… with stops at a local winery, Shawnee National Forest, and Superman’s hometown of Metropolis. Other trips done earlier this year with the 20th Century included Green Bay, Milwaukee, Detroit, Galesburg, Quincy, and Hannibal. If you have any 2020 trip ideas to pass along to the 20th Century Railroad Club, you can also drop us an e-mail at board@railrangers.org. A few longer week-long trips for 2020 are already posted on the 20th Century’s website. We plan to meet with club officials in the coming weeks and months to hammer out our 2020 trip schedule with them. Stay tuned for some really good stuff! We expect some 20th Century/Rail Rangers partner trips to be announced around February or March 2020… if not sooner!

South Shore Line Programs Continue Over Winter

As we enter “planning mode” with less trips during the winter months ahead — remember our onboard educational trips on the South Shore Line between Downtown Chicago and South Bend, Indiana never have an “off-season”; they operate year-round. We feel this is important because the beautiful scenery of Illinois and Indiana — especially the Indiana Dunes State Park area — is someone that should be enjoyed every month out of the year. Upcoming program dates include November 17, November 30, December 14, December 15, and December 29. We hope to release our January 1-April 30, 2020 schedule around the end of November or beginning of December. We very much appreciate our ongoing partnership with the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) and look forward to our third year together in 2020 bringing you onboard educational programs on America’s last interurban railroad. There are some exciting additions coming to our program too in 2020. We can’t release the details quite yet —- but know you will definitely want to plan a trip with the Midwest Rail Rangers on the South Shore come Spring 2020 to learn even more about what’s out your window. Details will be coming soon in the next E-Newsletter.

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #14: Midwest Rail Rangers Host Parlour Car “Open House” at Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad – October 5, 2019

Well, we have been teasing some big news going on with the Midwest Rail Rangers the past couple of days on our Facebook and Twitter pages… and here is the scoop (but first, a little history!)…

It was 63 years ago this summer that the Santa Fe rolled out its then-brand new fleet of Hi-Level equipment on the famed El Capitan train between Chicago and Los Angeles. Included were six Hi-Level lounge cars that featured panoramic seating on the upper level and the Kachina Coffee Shop on the lower level. These cars would go on to out-live passenger service on the Santa Fe… and on May 1, 1971… were sold off to Amtrak. They continued to be used on the combined El Capitan and Super Chief (and later Southwest Limited). The Hi-Level lounges were so sturdy, reliable, and beloved that they served as the inspiration for Amtrak’s Superliner Sightseer Lounge Cars that began to roll off the assembly line in the early 1980’s… and are still in use on many long-distance trains today. Five of the six former Santa Fe Hi-Level lounges got a second life in 1995, when Amtrak executive Brian Rosenwald came up with a plan to refurbish them and use them as first class lounge car on the Coast Starlight. For the next 23 years, these beautiful cars would be used as a diner/lounge knows as the Pacific Parlour Car. Perhaps you had the chance to ride them through California, Oregon, or Washington State?

Times are no doubt changing at Amtrak… and by February 2018… the company’s new CEO Richard Anderson made the decision to pull all five of the Pacific Parlour Cars out of regular service and sell them off to private individuals through an auction process. One of the successful bidders was the Vreeland Family, who owns and operates the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad outside of Spooner/Trego, Wisconsin (in Washburn County). Yes, through the Vreeland’s hard work and dedication — a former Pacific Parlour Car would be coming here to the Midwest to be preserved! Ex-Amtrak Pacific Parlour Car “Napa Valley” #39972 arrived at the Wisconsin Great Northern on July 11, 2019… and has been used this summer and fall for Sunday wine and cheese trains… re-named as Sky Parlour Car “Namekagon View” (named for a local river that the train passes by).

In fact, the Wisconsin Great Northern is currently THE ONLY place in the entire country that is offering regularly scheduled rides on a former Santa Fe Hi-Level / Pacific Parlour Car. Given how special and rare this car is… the Midwest Rail Rangers has agreed to partner with the Wisconsin Great Northern for a special event on Saturday, October 5th to help promote the history of the car… and for people to come out and experience why this private car is so special.

Midwest Rail Rangers Educational Officer Kandace Tabern explains, “Over the past four years now, the two major goals of our non-profit 501(c)(3) organization has been to promote the history of the South Shore Line… where we do regular on-board educational programs on… and then, of course, presenting programs on private railcars all across the Upper Midwest. When we first started up the Rail Rangers in 2015, our team of guides would present between 10 and 15 programs a year on private railcar trips that were run on the back of Amtrak trains. But, because of Amtrak’s new restrictions on private cars and the huge increase in costs for these kind of trips — the number of traditional private car trips has dropped off by around 60 to 70 percent a year that pass through the area. So, our Board has decided we need to look at alternate methods of education on private railcars. We will still do traditional private car trips whenever we can. But this will also mean teaming with organizations such as the Wisconsin Great Northern, who owns some very beautiful private cars. They might not run 79mph on the back of an Amtrak train… but it’s very important people come up and support the organizations like the Wisconsin Great Northern —- who have bought these cars and are preserving them. So we are here today to announce a new test partnership where our Interpretive Guides will be aboard the car.”

So, come out and join the Midwest Rail Rangers on Saturday, October 5, 2019 at the Wisconsin Great Northern. Between 10:00am and 4:00pm, a FREE “Open House” will be held at the railroad’s depot in Trego, Wisconsin… located about 2 hours from the Twin Cities… 5 hours from Milwaukee… and 6.5 hours from Chicago. But yes, it’s worth the drive up! Remember this is the only place in the country you can currently experience one of these special cars. Come and meet with Midwest Rail Rangers President Robert Tabern, Educational Officer Kandace Tabern, and Interpretive Guide Bruce Stahl. Besides a tour of the car — there will be over two dozen pieces of historic memorabilia on display from the Rail Rangers collection. A movie about the history of the car will also be shown… and a special new 52 page book about the history of the car will also make its debut (books will be available for purchase in the gift shop — then bring them out to the car to be autographed).

And while you’re there on Saturday, October 5, 2019 for the Sky Parlour Open House — why not go for a ride? Tickets are still available for the 12:00n pizza train plus the 2:00p and 3:00p sightseeing trips. And while the Sky Parlour will be stationary for the Open House… you can come out the following day (Sunday, October 6, 2019) for a ride on the 11:00am wine and cheese train.

For tickets, just head to www.SpoonerTrainRide.com or call Wisconsin Great Northern.

Midwest Rail Rangers President says, “Partnering with the Wisconsin Great Northern to promote their luxurious private railcar that has so much history on both the Santa Fe and Amtrak fits in so well with the Midwest Rail Rangers’ mission. We look forward to the event and hope a lot of people come out to experience the special displays, including a new book and movie that we will be working hard to finish up production on in the next couple of weeks”.

If this event is deemed a success, the Midwest Rail Rangers is hoping to offer multiple days in 2020 that its Interpretive Guides will have a presence on the Sky Parlour at the Wisconsin Great Northern. Stay tuned for more details on that in the months ahead…

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #13: Last Call for September Private Rail Excursions; Midwest Rail Rangers Visits the WGN

 

This is going to be your “LAST CALL” to come out an ride with the Midwest Rail Rangers between Chicago, Galesburg, and Kansas City in a few weeks aboard historic lounge car “Hollywood Beach” — with just a handful of discounted day trip tickets remain available.

Here is what is available:

Sunday, September 15 (Chicago to Kansas City, MO): “Hollywood Beach” will operate on the rear of Train #3, departing Chicago at 2:50pm and arriving in Kansas City at 10:00pm. Enjoy an on-board educational program provided by Midwest Rail Rangers Interpretive Guides Robert Tabern, Kandace Tabern, and Dave Poole from Chicago to Galesburg, Illinois. The trio will provide free route maps and tell you interesting stories about the people, places, and history seen along the route — including about the infamous Cherry Hill Coal Mine, whose slag hill you can see from the train. $299/per person for the one-way ride — includes train ride from Chicago to Kansas City, snacks, and meal.

(NOTE: You can return home on Monday morning from Kansas City by flying or riding Amtrak’s regularly schedule Southwest Chief train). Hotel in KC at your own cost.

Saturday, September 21 (Kansas City to Chicago): “Hollywood Beach” will operate on the rear of Train #4, departing Kansas City at 7:28am and arriving in Chicago at 2:50pm. Enjoy an on-board educational program provided by Midwest Rail Rangers Interpretive Guides Robert Tabern and Kandace Tabern the entire way from Kansas City to Chicago. The duo will provide free route maps and tell you interesting stories about the people, places, and history seen along the route — including the scenic and historic crossings of the Des Moines River and Mississippi River. $299/per person for the one-way ride — includes train ride from Kansas City to Chicago, snacks, and meals.

(NOTE: You can head out from Chicago to Kansas City on Friday by flying, or taking Amtrak’s regularly scheduled Southwest Chief train. Hotel on Friday night in KC at your own expense).

To book, please contact Keith White, owner of “Hollywood Beach”. To get these special rates, you must mention “Midwest Rail Rangers” at the time of making your reservation. You can e-mail Keith at onecniccat@prodigy.net OR call him at (708) 446-1269.

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This is also going to be your “NEXT TO THE LAST CALL” to purchase tickets to ride with the Midwest Rail Rangers’ special fall colors excursion — presented in partnership with Zephyr Route Tours.

Friday, October 4, 2019 (Chicago or Milwaukee to St. Paul) &

Sunday, October 6, 2019 (St. Paul to Milwaukee or Chicago):

Looking for something special to do this year to see the fall colors? Then come out and ride with the Midwest Rail Rangers and Zephyr Roue Tours through parts of Northern Illinois, Southern Wisconsin, and along the Mississippi River in Southeast Minnesota. Instead of fighting traffic and other leaf-peepers, sit back and relax and enjoy the scenery aboard full-length dome car “Prairie View”… a former Great Northern “Great Dome”.

This trip will depart Chicago, Glenview, and Milwaukee in the afternoon of Friday, October 4, 2019… with narration provided between Chicago and around the Wisconsin Dells by the Midwest Rail Rangers. Enjoy a dinner prepared freshly aboard the train and drinks… before arriving in the late afternoon in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Enjoy the Twin Cities “on your own” on Saturday, October 5, 2019… or partake in a half-day bus tour of the area arranged by Zephyr Route (extra cost applies).

We return to Milwaukee, Glenview, and Chicago mid-afternoon on Sunday, October 6, 2019. The real highlight will be riding along the Mississippi River between St. Paul and La Crescent. Often times, eagles and black pelicans are seen here flying along with the train. Enjoy narration from the Midwest Rail Rangers. Enjoy breakfast and lunch prepared freshly aboard the train.

This is part of a weekend package deal that includes an 800+ ride in a historic dome car through three states… two nights hotels… three meals… all transfers… and free narration and route guide sheets provided by the Midwest Rail Rangers. $949 per person based on double occupancy. For more information or to reserve your space, please contact Zephyr Route Tours directly at zephyr360@att.net or (630) 542-3607.

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Did you know that the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad, a tourist and freight railroad located between Spooner and Trego, Wisconsin, is now the only place in the country you can ride on a former Santa Fe Hi-Level lounge car (and ex-Amtrak Pacific Parlour Car) on a regularly scheduled basis?
After Amtrak made the decision to sell off their first class Pacific Parlour Cars in 2018… Greg and Mardell Vreeland, owners of the Wisconsin Great Northern, decided to put in their bid for one of these historic cars. They found out they were a winner… with #39972 arriving at its new home on July 11, 2019. Pacific Parlour Car “Napa Valley” has been re-branded as Sky Parlour “Namekagon View”. It will be running two times every Sunday (through at least the end of October) as a cheese and wine train. Be sure to head up there sometime in the next couple of weeks and buy a ticket for this special experience. Not only will you get to ride on a former Pacific Parlour Car in the Midwest — you will get to sample local wines and cheeses.

WGN’s website: www.SpoonerTrainRide.com

Tickets are a very reasonable $50 per person and include a train ride in the Sky Parlour Car, wine, cheese, and fruit.

Robert & Kandace Tabern, two members of the Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors, got to visit on August 11st, and report back the Wisconsin Great Northern is truly a “first class operation”… and will be an excellent home for this beautiful car.

The Midwest Rail Rangers are currently in negotiations with the owners of the Wisconsin Great Northern to have a role in helping to share the car’s history with passengers in the future. Some ideas thrown around have been producing a short film to show to passengers… and a book that can serve as a fundraiser for the car. We are even hoping to have some of our Interpretive Guides aboard the car on select weekends to talk with passengers and show off historical timetables, advertisements, and other items involving Santa Fe Hi-Level cars.

STAY TUNED for more information on this once we reach an agreement with WGNRR!

Once dates and more specifics are confirmed, we will post them here.

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #12: Day Riders Wanted for Private Car Excursion – Confirmed Trips to K.C., St. Louis & Chicago!

Thanks to your support, all of our September 2019 private rail excursions aboard private railcar “Hollywood Beach” are now a confirmed “go”. We have a very limited number of DISCOUNTED day ride seats available for trips through Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri.

Thanks to your continued support — we found out this weekend that enough tickets have been sold to make all of the September 2019 private car excursions with our private rail partner, “Hollywood Beach” — a confirmed go now. This includes narrated trips with us to Kansas City, Chicago, St. Louis, and other intermediate points.

However, only a handful of deep-discounted day ride tickets still available to those on exclusively on the Midwest Rail Rangers E-Newsletter list.

As a favor to us and you… Keith White, the owner of “Hollywood Beach” will continue to offer these lower priced tickets for the next couple of weeks, but please act very fast. We expect the small batch of tickets being held for Rail Rangers supporters (that’s you!) to sell out very quickly… possibly in the next few days. With increased costs and restrictions implemented by Amtrak, there are very few private rail excursions being out of Chicago this fall, too, so now is the time to book for sure if you want to go on these routes with us.

Here is an overview of your options to ride and the deep discounted prices being offered to those on the Midwest Rail Rangers E-Newsletter list:

Saturday, September 14 (St. Louis to Chicago):  “Hollywood Beach” will operate on the rear of Train #304, departing St. Louis at 3:00pm and arriving in Chicago at 8:40pm. This is a “dead head move” to get the car up to Chicago, but a limited number of lounge seats are available to the public. While this particular trip will NOT feature any on-board educational programs from the Midwest Rail Rangers, our special negotiated pricing will still apply for those who still want to go along for the ride.  $249/per person for the one-way ride — includes train ride from St. Louis to Chicago, snacks, and meal.

(NOTE: You can ride Amtrak Train #301 on Saturday morning from Chicago to St. Louis… and easily have enough time to connect with this private car trip back north).

Sunday, September 15 (Chicago to Kansas City, MO):  “Hollywood Beach” will operate on the rear of Train #3, departing Chicago at 2:50pm and arriving in Kansas City at 10:00pm. Enjoy an on-board educational program provided by Midwest Rail Rangers Interpretive Guides Robert Tabern, Kandace Tabern, and Dave Poole from Chicago to Galesburg, Illinois. The trio will provide free route maps and tell you interesting stories about the people, places, and history seen along the route — including about the infamous Cherry Hill Coal Mine, whose slag hill you can see from the train. $299/per person for the one-way ride — includes train ride from Chicago to Kansas City, snacks, and meal.

(NOTE: You can return home on Monday morning from Kansas City by flying or riding Amtrak’s regularly schedule Southwest Chief train).  Hotel in KC at your own cost.

Saturday, September 21 (Kansas City to Chicago):  “Hollywood Beach” will operate on the rear of Train #4, departing Kansas City at 7:28am and arriving in Chicago at 2:50pm. Enjoy an on-board educational program provided by Midwest Rail Rangers Interpretive Guides Robert Tabern and Kandace Tabern the entire way from Kansas City to Chicago. The duo will provide free route maps and tell you interesting stories about the people, places, and history seen along the route — including the scenic and historic crossings of the Des Moines River and Mississippi River. $299/per person for the one-way ride — includes train ride from Kansas City to Chicago, snacks, and meals.

(NOTE: You can head out from Chicago to Kansas City on Friday by flying, or taking Amtrak’s regularly scheduled Southwest Chief train. Hotel on Friday night in KC at your own expense).

Sunday, September 22 (Chicago to St. Louis, MO):  “Hollywood Beach” will operate on the rear of Train #303, departing Chicago at 9:25am and arriving in St. Louis at 3:00pm. Enjoy an on-board educational program provided by Midwest Rail Rangers Interpretive Guides Bob Neil and Bruce Stahl the entire way from Chicago to St. Louis. The duo will provide free route maps and tell you interesting stories about the people, places, and history seen along the route — including themes such as the I&M Canal, Abraham Lincoln, Route 66, and the Gateway Arch. $249/per person for the one-way ride — includes train ride from Chicago to St. Louis, snacks, and meal.

(NOTE: You can ride Amtrak Train #306 back northbound from St. Louis to Chicago on Sunday night to return home the same-day, if you so choose).

To book, please contact Keith White, owner of “Hollywood Beach”. To get these special rates, you must mention “Midwest Rail Rangers” at the time of making your reservation.  You can e-mail Keith at onecniccat@prodigy.net OR call him at (708) 446-1269.

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #11: A Busy Summer for the Midwest Rail Rangers

Join us on the South Shore… historic private rail trips to St. Louis, Kansas City, and the Twin Cities… or Amtrak charter trips to Detroit, Milwaukee, and Carbondale!

It has definitely been a busy summer so far for the Midwest Rail Rangers — but the best is yet to come with plenty of trips on our schedule.

Before we get into that… we want to take a quick minute and thank all of you who we met in the past couple of weeks… including at Galesburg Railroad Days the weekend of June 22-23. Plus, we also are welcoming a new private car partner to our roster. We were contacted by Blue Pine Rail… who organized a private rail excursion on the last run of the Hoosier State on Sunday, June 30th. We were asked to narrate between Lafayette, Indiana and Chicago on this previously sold out excursion that involved two historic Pennsylvania Railroad cars. We hope to partner with Blue Pine Rail in the future and make their trips available to those of you on our Roundhouse E-Newsletter List.

Even though the July 4th Holiday weekend has come and gone… we still have a lot in store for you this summer and fall.  Here is a quick update —–

South Shore Line:

Our on-board educational programs continue on the South Shore Line!  We are taking a break for a couple of the upcoming weekends due to Taste of Chicago and other major events going on in the city that will result in sold out trains.  But, don’t worry… we will be back on-board with a Rail Rangers “Doubleheader Weekend”.  Docents will be aboard on both Saturday, July 27 and Sunday, July 28.  Additional dates in August are posted. In the next week or so, we will also post our remaining dates through December 2019… plan ahead and come out and ride with us and experience the fall foliage of the Indiana Dunes.

Amtrak Charters with the 20th Century Railroad Club:

If you are looking to catch the Midwest Rail Rangers aboard Amtrak, look no further than our charters organized by the 20th Century Railroad Club. Tickets are still available for upcoming excursions to Michigan (July 19-21),  Milwaukee and on to Green Bay via motorcoach (August 17), and of course our “signature” trip of the year — a two-day weekend excursion down to Carbondale on October 26-27. This excursion to Southern Illinois was designed by both the Midwest Rail Rangers AND the 20th Century RR Club. We will see the best of the southern part of the state via rail and motorcoach. Included are narration on the train and bus — plus an organized walk with a U.S. Forest Service Ranger and free time in Superman’s Hometown of Metropolis.  We and the 20th Century Railroad Club are looking for ideas for 2020 Amtrak Charter Trip ideas!

Private Rail Excursions:

Of course, our most popular trips that we offer involved private rail cars —- many of you have had the chance to ride with us aboard historic 1940’s, 1950’s, or 1960’s railcars. We partner 7 different private car owners and excursion organizers to bring you fun and entertaining on-board educational programs aboard excursions.  Our private rail excursion we hope you join us on will be aboard “Hollywood Beach”.  Sleeping car space and day trip space are available for this special trip that will be operating in September. Rail Rangers guides will be aboard between Chicago and Galesburg, Illinois on Sunday, September 15… between Kansas City and Chicago on Saturday, September 21 (NEW TRIP ADDED!!!)… and Chicago and St. Louis on Sunday, September 22.  This excursion will only run if enough seats are sold — especially two remaining sleeping car compartments. We would love to ride the rails and bring you fun stories once again aboard “Hollywood Beach”… one of the most beautiful single-level railcars out there.  A handful of tickets are also available for a special full-length dome car excursion that the Midwest Rail Rangers will be doing on the weekend of October 4-6, 2019 in partnership with Zephyr Route.  Zephyr Route was one of the Midwest Rail Rangers’ charter partners in 2015 and has offer an array of fun excursions over the year.  This “fall colors” trip will be no different — as we head up and down along the Mississippi River.  This is a fun and relaxing trip with a full day to relax in Minneapolis-St. Paul between excursions.

No matter if it’s on the South Shore, an Amtrak charter, or a private rail excursion… we hope that you can make Rail Rangers part of your summer plans this year!

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #10: New Private Car Trips Added for “Hollywood Beach” Private Car in September

First, we would like to thank everyone who joined our “Roundhouse E-Newsletter List” during this weekend’s private car rides on the “Hollywood Beach” to Carbondale (Saturday) and/or St. Louis (Sunday). We hope everyone had a good time and enjoyed our commentary about all of the interesting landmarks along the route. We are glad to have you added to “The Roundhouse”. Whenever we get word one of our partners will be having a newly announced private rail excursion — we sent out a notice — much like this one so that you can be among the first people to get tickets. Don’t be left at the gate! We have had trips that sold out in just a matter of hours of going on sale. And don’t worry, we will NEVER sell, trade, or spam you. “The Roundhouse” is sent out by our Board of Directors one to three times a month to keep you updated on upcoming trips and our upcoming coach charters and other outreach events.

For the rest of you… Have you ever wonder what it would have been like to travel like a true ‘rail baron’ of the 1940’s or 1950’s? Well, now you have the rare opportunity to do just that — and in your own backyard — thanks to an upcoming series of excursions aboard a historic rail car sponsored by the Midwest Rail Rangers, a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization.

The Midwest Rail Rangers will be partnering with the owner of “Hollywood Beach”, a historic 1956 railroad passenger car, to give riders three rare opportunities of seeing what First Class travel was all about during the “Golden Age” of railroading. For those who remember this time period… a ride on the “Hollywood Beach” private car will no doubt bring back many memories of riding in the lap of luxury. For those who were perhaps maybe too young to experience this on a regular rail line… you also are definitely still invited aboard to see how much more comfortable and refined rail travel was “back in the day”. The large picture windows and overhead curved glass windows of the car make “Hollywood Beach” one of the most panoramic single level cars ever constructed. It’s perfect for enjoying the picturesque Illinois countryside in the late summer and early fall seasons.

The first excursion being offered takes place between Chicago and Kansas City on Sunday, September 15th via Naperville, Mendota, Princeton, Galesburg, Fort Madison (Iowa), and La Plata (Missouri). The train departs Chicago Union Station at 3:00pm and arrives in Kansas City around 10:00pm. Interpretive Guides from the Midwest Rail Rangers will be aboard for most of the journey providing interesting stories about the trackside towns the train is passing through. For example, did you know one of the deadliest coal mining disasters in American history took place near the train line at Cherry, Illinois? Plus… just how muddy is the Mississippi River? And where can you still see remnants of an original 1926 highway tucked away in a farmer’s field? All of those questions and more will be answered during the Midwest Rail Rangers’ fun and educational narration program for passengers. There will plenty of time for Q&A, too! Travelers will also enjoy meal and drink service for the duration of their 450-mile-long ride.

“Hollywood Beach” will also operate an eastbound private rail trip between Kansas City and Chicago on Saturday, September 21st… however no narration will be provided on this date. This trip departs Kansas City Union Station around 7:30am and is scheduled to arrive into Chicago Union Station around 3:30pm.

The final excursion available to passengers this season will take place on Sunday, September 22nd, when “Hollywood Beach” operates between Chicago and St. Louis (via Summit, Joliet, Dwight, Pontiac, Bloomington-Normal, Lincoln, Springfield, Carlinville, and Alton). Passengers will depart Chicago Union Station at 9:25am and arrive into St. Louis Gateway Station at 3:00pm. Interpretive Guides from the Midwest Rail Rangers will also be aboard this trip to share stories about the historic Illinois & Michigan Canal, Route 66, Illinois’ Coal Country, and Abraham Lincoln’s legacy. This unforgettable 284-mile-long journey will also feature meal service and beverages as part of the tour package being offered.

“Hollywood Beach” was one of just three Sun Lounge cars built in 1956 for the Seaboard Air Line Railroad. It was constructed with five double bedroom sleeping car rooms and a lounge for the exclusive use of First Class passengers aboard the railroad’s flagship “Silver Meteor” train, which operated between New York City and Miami. This was a popular train route taken by many celebrities and other rich socialites of the time looking to escape to the beaches and warmth of the Sunshine State. Even though it was designed to operate strictly on the east coast, “Hollywood Beach” definitely had a Midwest connection – as it was built by the Pullman-Standard Company, which got its start on the south side of Chicago. The car was later re-named “Sun Ray” and saw service with the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad. After operating on various Amtrak into the 1980’s, the car was sold off and has been owned by various private individuals. Keith White, the current owner, has spent a lot of time and energy to restore “Hollywood Beach” to its former beauty and is looking forward to welcoming you aboard — along with the Midwest Rail Rangers who provide the educational component of the trips.

Tickets for all three excursions mentioned above are currently on-sale, with limited space left on each trip. Both the Chicago-Kansas City excursion on September 15th and the Kansas City-Chicago excursion on Saturday, September 21st are $299 per-person one-way. The Chicago-St. Louis excursion on Sunday, September 22nd is $249 per-person one-way. This is a very special experience and we expect tickets to sell very fast. For more information, or to make your reservation, please contact Keith White at (708) 446-1269 or e-mail onecniccat@prodigy.net – please mention the Midwest Rail Rangers to get the discounted prices offered in this article.

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #9: Our First Private Car Trip of 2019 This Weekend; Additional Private Car Dates to be Announced Monday!

Check that beautiful photo of “Hollywood Beach” out!  Our private car ride this weekend is attached to Amtrak and ready to rock this weekend… this photo is just an hour or so old from the yards in St. Louis where the car will be “dead-heading” up from this afternoon!

We are happy to report that this upcoming weekend the Midwest Rail Rangers will be participating in our first private rail excursion of 2019 with our new partner — Keith White, owner of “Hollywood Beach”. This beautiful car, built in 1956, was once part of the Seaboard Air Line’s New York to Florida Service. It was later owned by the Seaboard Coast Line and Amtrak. This weekend’s excursions between Chicago and Southern Illinois did sell out very quickly… however, if some of you have free time and will be out and about with your camera this weekend… we would certainly appreciate your photos of the car in service.

The first of three excursions departs Chicago on Amtrak Train #391 on Saturday (June 7) at 8:15am and heads south into Carbondale, Illinois at 1:45pm.

Meanwhile, the northbound trip on this line will operate the same afternoon (Saturday, June 7) on Amtrak Train #392; departing Carbondale just after 4:00pm and arriving into Chicago just before 10:00pm.

Stops to photograph the car on the first two trips mentioned above include Homewood, Kankakee, Gilman, Rantoul, Champaign-Urbana, Mattoon, Effingham, Centralia, and DuQuoin.

The following day (Sunday, June 8) “Hollywood Beach” will be on Amtrak Train #303, doing a one-way positioning move from Chicago to St. Louis.  The train departs Chicago at 9:25am and arrives into St. Louis at 3:00pm. Intermediate station stops will be in Summit, Joliet, Dwight, Bloomington-Normal, Lincoln, Springfield, Carlinville, and Alton. Please e-mail your photographs to the Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors at board@railrangers.org.

If you didn’t get your chance to book tickets on “Hollywood Beach” for this weekend’s trips – stay tuned!  An announcement of additional trips will be coming out via a special Rail Rangers Roundhouse E-Newsletter on Tuesday morning (June 11th).  Please check your e-mail inbox for dates, details, and prices!  Just like this trip —- a limited number of seats will be made available and expect whatever inventory there is to sell out in a manner of weeks.  Remember, those one our E-Newsletter list get first crack at tickets. We will not post anything publically for a few days after the notice of the new trip dates go out to you. Encourage your friends who may be interested to sign up for the E-Newsletter through our website… www.railrangers.org.

A limited number of tickets are also available for our other planned private rail excursion —- this takes place October 4-6, 2019  between Chicago and the Twin Cities and is presented in partnership with Zephyr Route Tours and features a full dome car.  Please contact Mike Abernethy at zephyr360@att.net or (360) 542-3607 for details on this “fall colors” trip through Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.