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.

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #8: Limited Number of Seats Left on Private Car Trip: June 9, 2019 — Chicago to St. Louis for just $149!

The Midwest Rail Rangers are eagerly counting down to our first private rail car excursion of 2019 — and if you have not gotten your tickets yet — there are just a few seats left for you!  This week will be your absolute last chance to get a very deep discounted ticket for a ride with us aboard private car “Hollywood Beach” on Sunday, June 9, 2019 (that is coming up in just three weeks from today!).

Tickets for “Roundhouse E-Newsletter” subscribers and supporters of the Midwest Rail Rangers are just $149 for the one-way between Chicago and St. Louis (or Alton, IL).

MRR Executive Director Robert Tabern says, “$149 is an amazing deal for an almost 300 mile ride on a private car that is as beautiful and as historic as ‘Hollywood Beach’ is. We have never seen such a good deal and appreciate the owner of the car offering our supporters such a special discounted price to celebrate our new partnership together.”

The Midwest Rail Rangers and the owner of ‘Hollywood Beach’ initially partnered together to offer a round-trip excursion between Chicago and Carbondale, IL on Saturday, June 8, 2019. That trip sold out in such a quick fashion — that an additional trip was added between Chicago and St. Louis (one-way) the following day on Sunday, June 9, 2019. And now… there are just a few tickets left to see before this trip also becomes sold out, too.  So please consider calling this weekend to claim your spot for these special trips.

The excursion that is set to take place on Sunday, June 9, 2019 will depart Chicago at 9:25am CDT and make intermediate station stops in Summit, Joliet, Dwight, Pontiac, Bloomington-Normal, Lincoln, Springfield, Carlinville, Alton, and arrive into St. Louis at 3:00pm CDT.

Rail Rangers Educational Coordinator Kandace Tabern explains, “Even though this is a ONE-WAY trip on the private car… there are a lot of easy options people can take back to Chicago… even if they have to be at work the next Monday morning. A group of passengers who already booked with the Rail Rangers are jumping off at Alton, IL — which is an option — and will be catching Amtrak #304 back to Chicago… and that gets you home before 9pm.  You can ride down to St. Louis and wait for Amtrak #306 which is a later option back to Chicago. Some passengers will also be flying home after arriving in St. Louis as there are several flight options back to Chicago-Midway and Chicago-O’Hare. In fact, we will be guiding those who want to follow us to the airport after the excursion if they are unfamiliar with St. Louis’ MetroLink Rail System. Don’t let having to go to work on Monday or the unfamiliarity with St. Louis deter you from this special trip”.

Tickets for the June 9th trip from Chicago to St. Louis  are available by contacting Mr. Keith White at (708) 446-1269.  You can also e-mail Mr. White at onecniccat@prodigy.net.

Additional private car trips are planned too later this year with the Midwest Rail Rangers.

We are firming up plans with the owner of ‘Hollywood Beach’ for day-trips from St. Louis to Chicago and from Chicago to Kansas City on the weekend of September 15th —- and also a day-trip from Chicago to St. Louis the weekend of September 22nd. When pricing and other details are finalized… you will be among the first to know.

We also have some tickets available for the “Fall Colors” Excursion that we are partnering with Zephyr Route Tours on. This trip departs Chicago on Friday, October 4th and operates from Chicago to St. Paul, MN.  You will have all day to explore the Twin Cities on Saturday, October 5th.  The trip in a full-length dome car returns from St. Paul to Chicago on Sunday, October 6th.  Get your tickets NOW before people begin to think about fall colors — and then it will be too late.  This trip has SOLD OUT every year for the past 5 years now.  So, get your tickets now.

Tickets for the Fall Colors Trip between Chicago at St. Paul for October are available by contacting Mr. Mike Abernethy at zephyr360@att.net or call (630) 542-3607 between 10am CT and 9pm CT, please.

We are glad that we and our partners can bring you atleast some private car trips this year —- as we mentioned in our last e-newsletter, times remain tough for private railcar owners who have many limitations and higher fees placed on them by Amtrak.

We will bring you as many private car excursions as possible… but our focus will also remain on our South Shore Line trips that operate 2-3 weekends per month year-round… and the Amtrak charter trips that we also narrate on in partnership with the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago.

 

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #7: New Private Rail Excursions Announced with Lounge Car “Hollywood Beach” including Chicago & St. Louis – June 7th & 9th!

We are excited to report back to you tonight that in just a mere weeks after going on sale… all space aboard private railcar “Hollywood Beach” has now SOLD OUT for the round-trip journey that is planned between Chicago Union Station and Carbondale, Illinois on Saturday, June 8th. This is one of the first private car trips to operate on the former Illinois Central main line in recent years. Narration will be provided by the Midwest Rail Rangers for the entire run via Homewood, Champaign, Mattoon, and Effingham.

Because of the extremely heavy demand by passengers to ride a private railcar excursion that weekend… the Midwest Rail Rangers has worked hard with the owner of “Hollywood Beach” to add more space.

Tickets are going on sale TONIGHT for a ride in the “Hollywood Beach” between St. Louis and Chicago on Friday, June 7, 2019.  The train departs St. Louis Gateway Station at 3:00pm and arrives in Chicago Union Station at 8:40pm.

Tickets are also going on sale TONIGHT for a ride in the “Hollywood Beach” between Chicago and St. Louis on Sunday, June 9, 2019. The train departs Chicago Union Station at 9:25am and arrives at St. Louis Gateway Station at 3:00pm.  Passengers who ride on Sunday will be treated to an on-board educational program by the Midwest Rail Rangers via Joliet, Dwight, Bloomington-Normal, Lincoln, Springfield, Carlinville, and Alton.

Tickets for either one-way is just $149 per person; or ride the round-trip for $298.

Midwest Rail Rangers Educational Officer Kandace Tabern says, “Tickets are going to go very quick for these additional trips — so book now!   The addition of a Friday northbound trip and a Sunday southbound trip is a great opportunity for rail enthusiasts in St. Louis and Southern Illinois to come up to Chicago for a weekend. Even though they would have to book their own hotel rooms in Chicago for Friday and Saturday night — how often can someone from St. Louis ride ROUND-TRIP to Chicago for a weekend excursion?  It’s very rare… I would jump on it.”

Midwest Rail Rangers President Robert Tabern says, “This is also a great deal for people to ride from Chicago who were maybe wanting to take a shorter ride or a more economical ride than the Carbondale round-trip allowed for on Saturday.  Sometimes the Amtrak fare between Chicago and St. Louis is over $80… for just over $100 more, you get to ride in an amazing 1950’s vintage railcar.”

A portion of each ticket sold will donated by the owner of “Hollywood Beach” to the Midwest Rail Rangers to support our on-board educational programs.

The best way to secure your spot on either the northbound from St. Louis to Chicago on Friday, June 7 — or the southbound from Chicago to St. Louis on Sunday, June 9 (which will feature the Rail Rangers program) — is by calling Mr. Keith White, who is handling ticket sales for this excursion.  His phone number is (708) 446-1269.  You can also e-mail Mr. White at onecniccat@prodigy.net.

Also, mark your calendars for September 14, 15, 21, and 22.  Additional trips on the “Hollywood Beach” on various train lines into and out of Chicago are being discussed for these details.  Those on our “THE ROUNDHOUSE”  E-Newsletter will be among the first to get the details.

We are glad that we and our partners can bring you atleast some private car trips this year —- times remain tough for private railcar owners who have many limitations and higher fees placed on them by Amtrak.

Update: Tickets Are Going Quick for Carbondale Private Rail Excursion

We wanted to send out a special message to all of those on our E-Newsletter list as a reminder that tickets are going VERY QUICK for the upcoming private car trip to Carbondale, Illinois that is planned for Saturday, June 8, 2019.

If you do not purchase you ticket with-in the next week or so… you may not be able to ride with us… as day-trip space is becoming limited at this time.

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This trip, presented in partnership with the Midwest Rail Rangers, will take place aboard “Hollywood Beach”, which you have seen some photos of above. The car was built by Pullman in 1956 and was used in service on Seaboard Coast Line’s New York to Florida ‘Silver Meteor’ Train.  You may have rode in this car when it was operated by Amtrak between 1971 and 1989.  This is a beautifully restored solarium lounge car with five bedrooms and parlour and dining seating.

Besides the day-trip… there is also limited space to sleep aboard the car before and/or after the excursion. That’s right — enjoy a rare evening sleeping aboard the “Hollywood Beach” in your private bedroom — watching the overnight activity of Chicago’s busy Amtrak passenger yards from your window.  Packages are available to overnight on the car either Friday, June 7 or Saturday, June 8 in Downtown Chicago.

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Some overnight accommodations must be sold in order to make the day-trip to Carbondale financially do-able for the car owner and the Midwest Rail Rangers… so please consider purchasing a bedroom before and/or after the ride.  Plus, it will make it that much more enjoyable not having to get up early for the ride and/or fight Saturday night Chicago traffic to get back home after the long day we will have together.

HERE’S MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE TRIP:

We will depart Chicago Union Station at 8:15am CT on the morning of Saturday, June 8th. An on-board educational program will be presented by the Midwest Rail Rangers for passengers in the lounge section of the car through the morning and early afternoon hours… as we roll south through Homewood, Kankakee, Gilman, Rantoul, Champaign-Urbana, Mattoon, Effingham, Centralia, and DuQuoin. Our experienced Interpretive Guides will tell you plenty of interesting stories about the towns that line the old Illinois Central main line.  Learn about an Air Force Base that was established in Illinois at the height of World War I.  Who was really behind the building of the Illinois Central?  And hear stories about Illinois’ “coal country”.

Arrive in Carbondale around 1:45pm CT… where you will have approximately two hours to stretch your legs. There is a nearby Italian restaurant where you can get a bite to eat, too.  Re-board around 4:15pm CT and head back north to the Windy City.  Rail Rangers Interpretive Guides will remain aboard “Hollywood Beach” to answer any questions you might have about the passing landscape. Scheduled arrival time back into Chicago is at 9:45pm on the same day – Saturday, June 8th.

We have secured SPECIAL PRICING for those on our Midwest Rail Rangers “Roundhouse E-Newsletter” list for this trip. Those who call/write and mention that they heard about this trip through the Midwest Rail Rangers will be offered a discounted price of just $298 per person for the 15+ hour round-trip journey in one of America’s most exciting private cars.  Again, you must mention Midwest Rail Rangers to get this special price.  With such a good price and more than 600 people on our E-Newsletter List… tickets will go VERY QUICK.  We recommend that you book your spot in the next 24 to 48 hours.

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We also realize that the 8:15am arrival and 9:45pm return might be hard for those who live outside of the immediate Chicago area.  Because of this… an extremely limited number of bedrooms will also be made available on the “Hollywood Beach” for passengers.  Accommodations on the car are available the night before the trip (Friday, June 7) and/or the night after the trip (Saturday, June 8) for an additional $250 per person per night based on double occupancy.  (Solo travelers may also occupy a room for $500 per single per night, or both nights for $1,000).

Checks payable thru:

“Keith’s Rail Way, LLC”

2904 Chevy Chase Lane

Naperville, IL  60564

onecniccat@prodigy.net

This will be a very special trip that we look forward to offering you.  In the almost five years that the Midwest Rail Rangers has been in operation… there have been NO private car day-trips from Chicago offered on the Chicago to Carbondale line. It may be that long again before something like this comes about… so jump on it!

Limited lounge space is also available on “Hollywood Beach” from St. Louis to Chicago on Friday, June 7th… and from Chicago to St. Louis on Sunday, June 9th. Tickets are just $149 per person, one-way.  No narration or on-board educational programs will be provided on the St. Louis portions of this trip, unfortunately.

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Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #6 (Released 4/2/2019)

Spring and Summer 2019 will no doubt be an extremely busy time for the Midwest Rail Rangers… and we are hoping that you will join us for one of our MANY events scheduled for the months ahead.

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Hopefully you saw the special “Private Car Alert” message sent out last week… but in case you missed it… the Midwest Rail Rangers is partnering with Keith White, the owner of private car “Hollywood Beach”, in hopes of running a special private rail excursion this summer between Chicago and Southern Illinois. The round-trip-in-a-day between Chicago and Carbondale, Illinois is scheduled to take place on Saturday, June 8, 2019. Ride more than 600 miles round-trip through the beautiful farm country of Central Illinois on this beautiful private car — offering stunning views of the countryside and towns that grew up along the Illinois Central. This is really a “MUST DO” once-in-a-lifetime trip. This is the first time in nearly 5 years that the Midwest Rail Rangers is offering narration on this train line. Depart Chicago at 8:15a, Arrive Carbondale at 1:45p, re-board by 4pm, and arrive back in Chicago around 9:45p. Tickets are just $298 per person.

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Want something extra special? How about spending the night before the trip and/or the night after the trip in the Chicago Yards? That’s right — sleep in one of the bedrooms of Hollywood Beach and don’t worry about getting into Downtown Chicago in time for the trip on Saturday morning — and/or — don’t fight the busy Saturday night traffic. A bedroom on the car, which will be parked in the Amtrak Yards, is just $250 per person based on double occupancy. In order to make the day trip to Carbondale financially profitable, we must sell spots in the bedrooms too… so please consider supporting this trip, having the rare experience of sleeping in the train yards in Chicago — it’s something you will not soon forget watching all of the train activity aboard.

IN ORDER TO GET THE SPECIAL PRICES QUOTED ABOVE — YOU MUST MENTION “MIDWEST RAIL RANGERS” when booking. To reserve your spot, or for more information, please e-mail: onecniccat@prodigy.net.

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The Midwest Rail Rangers will also be busy with our special on-board educational programs on the South Shore Line this Spring and Summer season, too! Join us two to three weekends per month for a round-trip ride on the South Shore Line between Chicago and South Bend to learn about all of the interesting landmarks along the way. The train passes through or very close to two units of the National Park Service — including Pullman National Monument and Indiana Dunes National Park — plus two other affiliated NPS units and four state park locations. Our guides will tell you about he people, places, and history that you are seeing out the window. Makes plans to join us — we have all of our dates through the end of August 2019 up on our website now.

We also hope you will join us for one of our four upcoming special presentations at local libraries during the months of April and May. We gear our on-board educational programs on the South Shore Line to the average rider who might not care about railroad history as much as others. So, we don’t have much time to talk to people about the interesting relationship the South Shore has had with Chicago and Northwest Indiana since its creation in 1903. However, we have had special requests from several riders to know more about the history of the South Shore — America’s Last Interurban Railroad. In order to satisfy the curiosity — we have partnered with four local libraries and will be giving one hour long Power Point Presentations about the history of the South Shore Line from its creation more than 110 years ago… to modern times. Come out to Chicago’s Hegewisch Neighborhood, New Carlisle, Michigan City, or Merrillville and join us. Dates, times, and location information is also up on our website.

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I’ll wrap up this chat with you with a special THANK YOU (on behalf of our Board of Directors) to the handful of individuals who have opened up their wallets in recent weeks to give a donation to the Midwest Rail Rangers. As you probably know, we were part of the APRHF (American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation) for many years… however… given various circumstances… realized it was in our best interest to break away and become our own independent 501(c)(3) organization. We got the official approval from the IRS in March 2019… who “back-dated” our start date to December 17, 2018. We are very proud of what the future will bring for our organization… but… we are starting out with essentially no money in our bank accounts and are hoping to build up a nice reserve so we can continue to bring you on-board educational programs for years to come. A lot of riders who enjoy our programs do not realize the cost involved in what we do. Insurance alone to do our programs on the South Shore Line costs several hundred dollars per year… and there is upkeep that must be done on our speaker systems… and research costs, etc. Thank you to those who have cared to show their support by donation. If you have not, would you consider even a small donation to help us get a good footing for the future? We have a donation button on our homepage — railrangers.org — and remember, everything is tax deductible with us being a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Your purchase of railroad route guides at MidwestRails.com also helps support our group. Choose from books, e-books, or our brand new podcasts.

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New Private Car Trip Announced: Chicago to Carbondale, IL Round-Trip on Saturday, June 8, 2019

As you probably have heard by now… record flooding is hitting parts of the Upper Midwest very hard. In fact, as I write this… Amtrak has announced that it will suspend operations of the famed California Zephyr between Chicago and Denver for the next couple of days due to deteriorating conditions and freight traffic in Iowa on the Union Pacific “detour route” that it had been using the last week or so. Well, all the flood waters will be heading south and east into the Mississippi River… eventually going down to New Orleans.  In anticipation of this… emergency management officials have decided they will need to keep the spillways open for the next several months.  This means the City of New Orleans will terminate in Jackson, Mississippi… with passengers being bused between there and New Orleans through at least June. Sadly, this will impact the private car trip that we had announced and were planning to do in partnership with the owner of “Hollywood Beach” on the weekend of May 4th and May 5th. This nearly sold-out trip is officially CANCELLED due to the flooding. We were looking forward to narrate for a select group of passengers between New Orleans and Memphis… but it was not meant to be.

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But, we at the Midwest Rail Rangers are known for not giving up!  So, we will be replacing the original trip we had planned with a special round-trip day-trip from Chicago down to Carbondale… also using “Hollywood Beach”.  We want to give those of you on our “Roundhouse E-Newsletter” List the first crack at tickets… so mark your calendar for Saturday, June 8th… and below are the details and pricing that you need to know.

We will depart Chicago Union Station at 8:15am CT on the morning of Saturday, June 8th. An on-board educational program will be presented by the Midwest Rail Rangers for passengers in the lounge section of the car through the morning and early afternoon hours… as we roll south through Homewood, Kankakee, Gilman, Rantoul, Champaign-Urbana, Mattoon, Effingham, Centralia, and DuQuoin. Our experienced Interpretive Guides will tell you plenty of interesting stories about the towns that line the old Illinois Central main line.  Learn about an Air Force Base that was established in Illinois at the height of World War I.  Who was really behind the building of the Illinois Central?  And hear stories about Illinois’ “coal country”.

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Arrive in Carbondale around 1:45pm CT… where you will have approximately two hours to stretch your legs. There is a nearby Italian restaurant where you can get a bite to eat, too.  Re-board around 4:15pm CT and head back north to the Windy City.  Rail Rangers Interpretive Guides will remain aboard “Hollywood Beach” to answer any questions you might have about the passing landscape. Scheduled arrival time back into Chicago is at 9:45pm on the same day – Saturday, June 8th.

We have secured SPECIAL PRICING for those on our Midwest Rail Rangers “Roundhouse E-Newsletter” list for this trip… as well as those who follow our blog, Facebook site, and Twitter Feed. Those who call/write and mention that they heard about this trip through the Midwest Rail Rangers will be offered a discounted price of just $298 per person for the 15+ hour round-trip journey in one of America’s most exciting private cars.  Again, you must mention Midwest Rail Rangers to get this special price.  With such a good price and more than 600 people on our E-Newsletter List… tickets will go VERY QUICK.  We recommend that you book your spot in the next 24 to 48 hours.

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We also realize that the 8:15am arrival and 9:45pm return might be hard for those who live outside of the immediate Chicago area.  Because of this… an extremely limited number of bedrooms will also be made available on the “Hollywood Beach” for passengers.  Accommodations on the car are available the night before the trip (Friday, June 7) and/or the night after the trip (Saturday, June 8) for an additional $250 per person per night based on double occupancy.  (Solo travelers may also occupy a room for $500 per single per night, or both nights for $1,000).

Checks payable thru:

“Keith’s Rail Way, LLC”

2904 Chevy Chase Lane

Naperville, IL  60564

onecniccat@prodigy.net

 This will be a very special trip that we look forward to offering you.  In the almost five years that the Midwest Rail Rangers has been in operation… there have been NO private car day-trips from Chicago offered on the Chicago to Carbondale line. It may be that long again before something like this comes about… so jump on it!

 Limited lounge space is also available on “Hollywood Beach” from St. Louis to Chicago on Friday, June 7th… and from Chicago to St. Louis on Sunday, June 9th. Tickets are just $149 per person, one-way.  No narration or on-board educational programs will be provided on the St. Louis portions of this trip, unfortunately.

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Private Car Trip Added! Midwest Rail Rangers Goes Hollywood… Hollywood Beach, that is!

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Hopefully you got the very special edition of our E-Newsletter on Wednesday morning. However, in case you missed the BIG NEWS… we are proud to announce that the Midwest Rail Rangers is now its own independent 501(c)(3) educational non-profit.  With a headquarters much closer to where our private rail car trips, South Shore Line public trips, Amtrak coach charters, and outreach events are… we look forward to serving you even better than we have before. The Rail Rangers had been part of the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation for almost the past four years now… but it is time to spread our wings. We wish them well in their future endeavors. And thank you to everyone who has shared a kind word or two in the past couple of days — or has opened up their wallets and made a donation so our general fund we can be off to a good start.

But… that is not all!

In order to celebrate this big change, we are hoping to do our first on-board educational program outside of the Upper Midwest!  That’s right — the Midwest Rail Rangers are heading to the Deep South! (But no, we won’t be changing our name again!)  We want to take YOU and seven others along for the ride.

The Midwest Rail Rangers is in a test partnership agreement with Keith White, the owner of private car “Hollywood Beach”, for a once-in-a-lifetime trip down to the Big Easy.

That’s right — New Orleans.

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This special trip will leave from Chicago Union Station on Tuesday, April 30, 2019 at 8:00pm. You will ride in style on the back of Amtrak’s famed “City of New Orleans” train. You will sleep good knowing you’re riding down the historic Illinois Central — more than 300 miles down to the far southern tip of Illinois.  From there, it’s a hop, skip, and a jump across the Ohio River into Kentucky… and by the time you are waking up on Wednesday, May 1st, you will be in Memphis, Tennessee. Sit back and relax during the morning hours as the train passes through the Delta Region of Mississippi. By the time lunch rolls around… you’ll be crossing into Louisiana.  Be on the lookout for gators… sometimes you can see them along the tracks as you ‘round Lake Pontchartrain.  “Hollywood Beach” will be your unforgettable “hotel on wheels” for the evenings of Wednesday, May 1st… Thursday, May 2nd… and Friday, May 3rd at New Orleans’ trains station. Come and go as you want.  There’s a lot of options to sightsee around New Orleans (and do we dare mention there are a lot of street cars to ride, too?).

The Midwest Rail Rangers will join in on the festivities in New Orleans on the afternoon of Saturday, May 4th. Two of our Interpretive Guides will ride aboard “Hollywood Beach” to present an on-board educational program between New Orleans, Louisiana and Memphis, Tennessee as you begin your northbound journey home. We’ll talk swamps, jazz music, Civil War history… and a lot more. As they say… not knowing what you are seeing out your window on a train ride… is like watching the Travel Channel or History Channel on mute. Your trip will come to life as you learn about all of the interesting small towns the train passes through in Southern Louisiana and South and Central Mississippi.  The trip comes to a close on the morning of Sunday, May 5th… as we all roll back into the Windy City of Chicago!

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Since the Midwest Rail Rangers was founded in July 2015, we have never attempted to do an on-board educational program outside of the Upper Midwest… and it may be a very long time before it ever happens again. We would love to teach you and your fellow passengers about this exciting region of our country. But, you need to act now!  Why?  We want this trip to be an intimate experience for our passengers — so ticket sales will be limited to just the first eight people who respond. Yes, only eight people will get to go on this fantastic and memorable trip with the Midwest Rail Rangers to learn all about the Deep South and New Orleans.

And how could we not mention the fantastic private car, “Hollywood Beach”?  It is a five-bedroom lounge car with two shower facilities, no less than 24 pieces of beautifully framed railroad art-work depicting scenes of its Seaboard Air Line heritage. It is equipped with TV, DVD, CD, and radio reception, as well as electrical outlets dispersed throughout the car.  The solarium lounge, where our on-board educational program will take place on Saturday, May 4th from New Orleans to Memphis, offers new tinted glass throughout… including the dome.  The views equal or exceed any rail transit car in the world. There is even a large library of books, official guides, and timetables of the Seaboard Air Line.

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The fare is a very reasonable $2,995 per person, double occupancy for one of the bedrooms on “Hollywood Beach”.  (Remember, you will be saving a lot of money by sleeping on the car in New Orleans instead of paying for a high-priced hotel room on Bourbon Street!  Plus, sleep soundly at the station away from the noisy crowds and bars when it’s time to retire.)

In order to make this trip “a go”, the Midwest Rail Rangers need all eight spots to be sold… but we’re hoping that this won’t be a problem thanks to you.  We would love to come and put on a special on-board educational program away from our home region and to have you be a part.  Remember —- with the restrictions that Amtrak put on private car moves about a year ago —– these type of trips out of Chicago are becoming more and more rare.  Jump on this chance before it might be too late someday in the future.

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Because we are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization — the Midwest Rail Rangers will only be presenting the on-board educational program on “Hollywood Beach”; we are not allowed to sell tickets for this excursion.  If you are interested in going, please contact:  Mr. Keith R. White, 2904 Chevy Chase Lane, Naperville, IL  60564.  If you have questions, you should e-mail Mr. White at onecniccat@prodigy.net.  E-mail is preffered, but he can also be contacted by calling (708) 446-1269.   Checks should be made payable to “Keith’s Rail Way, LLC”.

****IN ORDER TO GET THE SPECIAL DISCOUNTED PRICE OF $2,995 MENTIONED ABOVE, YOU MUST MENTION THE “MIDWEST RAIL RANGERS DEAL” WHEN MAKING THIS RESERVATION (INCLUDING IF YOU MAIL A CHECK IN OR BOOK OVER E-MAIL).****

We apologize for the short notice of this private car trip — but we were waiting until we got out official clearance we were a 501(c)(3) non-profit… and that just happened earlier this week.

If you live near St. Louis, there is a boarding option for you at St. Louis Gateway Terminal for the same price. This car will be “dead-heading” to Chicago on April 29th and “dead-heading” back home to St. Louis on May 6th.  Limited space may be available for day passengers, however we really want riders to join us for the whole run — especially for our narration on the afternoon of Saturday, May 4th between New Orleans and Memphis.

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #5: Midwest Rail Rangers to Become Independent 501(c)(3) Non-Profit on March 10, 2019; No Longer Affiliated with APRHF

The Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors is excited to announce that the on-going transition of our organization into an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit will finally be complete, as of Sunday, March 10, 2019.

Looking back, our formal on-board educational efforts launched more than six years ago. Between December 2012 and July 2015, our group of volunteers provided on-board educational programs to more than 50,000 passengers on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief train through portions of Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri. During that time period, we were affiliated with Trails & Rails… an organization run up by the National Park Service that oversaw narration on numerous Amtrak train routes across the United States. Our local Trails & Rails group was additionally co-sponsored by the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation (APRHF) in La Plata, Missouri, which helped to fund hotel rooms for our Chicago-based Interpretive Guides during their layovers.

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In July 2015, Trails & Rails management decided they no longer wanted to partner with private non-profit organizations, such as the APRHF. This resulted in the Chicago-to-La Plata, MO Trails & Rails program ending, but almost immediately re-launching itself as the APRHF Rail Rangers. The original sole focus of the APRHF Rail Rangers was to provide on-board educational programs aboard private rail excursions. Numerous private railcar owners saw the value of having experienced Interpretive Guides aboard their excursions… including Friends of the 261, Zephyr Route Tours, American Rail Excursions, Friends of the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, Paxrail, and the 20th Century Railroad Club. Our group of Interpretive Guides had very busy schedule almost right off the bat… narrating on private rail trips across seven states in the Upper Midwest. The APRHF Rail Rangers continued to grow in recent years… with Interpretive Guides providing on-board educational programs on public rail trips too, including Iowa Pacific’s Hoosier State (November 2016 to February 2017) and the South Shore Line (August 2017 to Current)… giving off-the-train historical power point presentations/talks… and adding PDF e-books and MP3 podcasts to the collection of railroad route guides for sale.

The APRHF Board of Directors and leadership with-in the Rail Rangers reached an agreement in December 2018 that called for the Rail Rangers to be spun off into its own independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The transition process commenced on December 23, 2018 with the newly re-named Midwest Rail Rangers becoming a temporary chapter of the APRHF. This allowed the Rail Rangers to remain non-for-profit, while obtaining its own general liability insurance policy and tax-exempt status with the IRS and State of Wisconsin.

Both of these tasks and all other necessary paperwork have been completed, and the Midwest Rail Rangers will break all affiliations with the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation on March 10, 2019… including its temporary “chapter status”.

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Midwest Rail Rangers President Robert Tabern explains, “There are many reasons why leaving the APRHF at this time is a necessary step for the continued growth of the Midwest Rail Rangers. Instead of having a headquarters in rural Northeast Missouri, a location more than 300 miles away from most of our activities…. our new organization is incorporated in Elm Grove, Wisconsin, a vibrant western suburb of Milwaukee. This will help our marketing and communications going forward, as our new headquarters city is situated much closer to where most of our private rail trips, public rail trips, and outreach events take place… in addition to being much closer to where most of our Interpretive Guides actually reside.”

The Midwest Rail Rangers will now be overseen by a new pro-active hands-on Board of Directors made up of our own Interpretive Guides who will meet multiple times per year to make sure things are headed in the right direction for our group.

Finally, our supporters can now be assured that all of their tax-deductible donations will stay completely with-in the Rail Rangers program and will be used for on-board educational programs… instead of funneled into other projects that often had very little to do directly with railroad history and on-board education.

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Tabern adds, “We have a bright future… and to that we owe our thanks for our increasing numbers of supporters who know that ‘not knowing what you are seeing out your window, is like watching the Travel Channel with the audio turned off’!  We are glad you have stuck with us through a lot of changes.”

All on-board educational programs scheduled for 2019 will continue as scheduled… including a handful of private rail excursions, five Amtrak coach charters with the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago, and nearly one dozen outreach events.  In fact, the Midwest Rail Rangers is in final negotiations stages with the South Shore Line/NICTD for a new contract that would secure on-board educational programs would continue through atleast March 2021. Plus, there is work to a secure a big new partnership agreement when it comes to the South Shore Line programs!   (Stay tuned for more on these soon!)

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TO HELP US BUILD UP A RESERVE FUND FOR OUR NEW 501(C)(3) NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION, PLEASE HEAD TO RAILRANGERS.ORG AND CLICK ON THE “MAKE A DONATION” BUTTON ON THE UPPER LEFT-HAND SIDE OF THE SCREEN.  ALL DONATIONS ARE NOW TAX-DEDUCTIBLE AS OUR NON-PROFIT STATUS HAS BEEN APPROVED BY THE IRS!   DONATIONS OF $20 OR MORE WILL RECEIVE A SPECIAL “THANK YOU” GIFT.

 

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #4: New Private Car Trip Announced: Dome Car Ride for Just $75! Tickets Going Quick!

The Midwest Rail Rangers will partner with the Friends of the 261 on May 19, 2019!

The Midwest Rail Rangers will be partnering up with the Friends of the 261 once again coming up this spring!  Did you know that the Friends of the 261 was one of the original two private car partners with the Midwest Rail Rangers (the other partner is Zephyr Route Tours!).  In fact, five years before the Midwest Rail Rangers was even founded MRR President Robert Tabern was working with Friends of the 261 Steve Sandberg to provide route guides and route narration on various excursions across the Upper Midwest.

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Well… get your calendars and credit cards out… because the Midwest Rail Rangers will be part of the Friends of the 261’s “Windy City Express”… which will operate on the back of Amtrak’s Empire Builder in about two-and-a-half months from now.

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The eastbound portion of the excursion will depart St. Paul Union Depot in Minnesota on the morning of Thursday, May 16, 2019… en route to Milwaukee and Chicago later that afternoon.  You will have two days to explore around Chicago at your own pace.  The westbound portion of the excursion will depart Chicago Union Station in Illinois on the afternoon of Sunday, May 19, 2019… en route to Milwaukee later that afternoon and on to St. Paul, Minnesota later that evening.

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This trip has been designed by the Friends of the 261 to be easily accessible for anyone living in the Twin Cities, Milwaukee, or Chicago… You can ride the entire round-trip between the Twin Cities and Milwaukee or Chicago on May 16th & May 19th for just $279 per person. Or ride one-way for $199 per person.  “Short haul” tickets are also available between Milwaukee and Chicago on May 16th… and between Chicago and Milwaukee on May 19th for just $75 per person.  What a great deal to ride in a vintage dome car!

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The Midwest Rail Rangers will be participating in this excursion only on Sunday, May 19th between Chicago-Union Station, IL and Milwaukee, WI.  We will have three of our Interpretive Guides available to greet passengers at Union Station… and then we will be doing narration for the first 85 miles of the trip. Come out and learn about the rich history of Chicago… see the famous “Ferris Bueller Water Tower”‘… learn about the Armour Estate, which the train passes through… and what’s up with all the fields of cabbage in Racine County?  We’ll share more Milwaukee trivia and lore as we wind our way up across the Wisconsin border.  Free route guide handouts will be provided to all passengers who want one… we will also be selling our Chicago-Milwaukee ($20) and Chicago-St. Paul ($15/$35) route guide books so you will know about the rest of your journey up to the Twin Cities that evening.

$75 is a very good price for this one-way journey between Chicago and Milwaukee on Sunday, May 19th. We would love to fill up the whole dome car of fans who enjoy listening to the Midwest Rail Rangers On-Board Educational Programs!

The Friends of the 261’s new dome car “Silver Palace” will be featured on the eastbound trip to Chicago on Thursday, May 16th… while both “Silver Palace” and the Milwaukee Road full-length Super Dome will be featured on the westbound trip on Sunday, May 19th where the Midwest Rail Rangers will be narrating.

Tickets are expected to SELL OUT with-in weeks with this great $75 price between Chicago and Milwaukee… so call your friends… and make reservations very soon!!!   We do have one favor to ask though — when purchasing your tickets and when you ride — please tell the Friends of the 261 staff that you heard about this trip through the Midwest Rail Rangers. The more folks who mention the Rail Rangers… makes our partnership with our private car partners that much stronger… and that helps our 501(c)(3) non-profit group to have our guides on more excursions like this.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS NOW!

The Midwest Rail Rangers is also a proud supporter of the Friends of the 261’s North Pole Express Train. Every year, our Interpretive Guides put down their microphone for a day and help entertain passengers on this annual holiday steam train ride in St. Paul. We will be heading up there and working the train on Saturday, December 7, 2019 this year!  Tickets will go on sale this fall, but mark your calendar now and plan to join us for this special weekend, which serves as the most important fundraiser for Friends of the 261.

Finally — look for a very special edition of “The Roundhouse” coming out NEXT WEEK. We have some very exciting news to share about our future… as we transition into our own independent non-profit organization.