APRHF Outreach Event Heads to Madison, WI

It’s one of the largest model train shows in the Upper Midwest — and the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation (APRHF) will be there — as part of our recent expanded outreach efforts. This weekend (Saturday, February 20th and Sunday, February 21st, 2016), members of the APRHF Rail Rangers program will be on hand to greet thousands of visitors at the 49th Annual Mad City Rail Show. This event, which is sponsored by the South Central Wisconsin Division of the National Model Railroad Association, draws crowds from Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and numerous surrounding states. You can have your chance to meet with APRHF representatives each day from 9:00AM to 5:00PM at the Alliant Energy Center. There will also be numerous model railroading suppliers in attendance, as well as railroad memorabilia dealers. So, yes, something for everyone!

The APRHF Rail Rangers program was founded in July 2015 by APRHF President Bob Cox, APRHF Vice-President Amy Cox, Rail Rangers Executive Director Robert Tabern, and Assistant Chicago Coordinator Kandace Tabern. Interpretive guides Kathleen Bruecker, Dave Poole, Robert Neil, Fred Glure, and Joe Kuczynski were also recruited to join the growing staff of volunteers. The primary mission of the APRHF Rail Rangers is to provide experienced docents and printed route guide materials for private rail car and group rail excursions. In just its founding year, APRHF Rail Rangers provided on-board programs between Chicago and Galesburg/Quincy, Illinois (June 2015 “pilot program”); Minneapolis, Minnesota and Boylston, Wisconsin (October 2015); and between St. Paul, Minnesota and Glenview, Illinois (October 2015). APRHF Rail Rangers volunteers also helped to staff the Friends of the 261 North Pole Express train on four different dates in St. Paul, MN during December 2015.

Because of its’ non-profit 501(c)(3) status, APRHF Rail Rangers is able to provide an extremely low-cost (and often times, no cost!) step-on guide service to private rail car owners and group rail organizers. Charter partners from last year include the Friends of the 261 (based at Minneapolis Junction, MN) and Zephyr Route (based at Saint Charles, IL). Often times, private car owners have a plethora of details to worry about when it comes to organizing a trip… and sadly… quality route guides and educating passengers about the interesting landscape passengers will be traveling through often fall by the wayside. That is where APRHF Rail Rangers has stepped in to fill the void. What might appear to passengers as hours of boring corn and soybean scenery can turn into an interesting afternoon of history, education, and fun when you have interpretive guides aboard to share some of the stories. All guides involved in Rail Rangers live in the Midwest (Missouri, Illinois, or Wisconsin) and have multiple years of experience car hosting and providing educational programs about the Upper Midwest.

Besides providing these on-board programs, APRHF Rail Rangers also commit to attending at least three outreach events per year in order to promote their private car partners and upcoming trips. While much of what the APRHF does remains centered around La Plata, Missouri, Rail Rangers expands the organization’s overall mission to other areas of the Midwest. Rail Rangers outreach programs that will likely remain an annual event include Mad City Rail in February (Madison, Wisconsin), the Chicagoland Railroad Collectibles Show in April (Glen Ellyn, Illinois), and TrainFest in November (Milwaukee, Wisconsin). Other outreach events are occasionally held on a more sporadic basis.

So what will be happening this weekend in Madison? Well, the APRHF Rail Rangers will be unveiling their new tri-fold display board which was created over the winter months. This display will give visitors a great overview of what the APRHF and APRHF Rail Rangers do. For the first time, we will also be making public some of the dates that we have excursions planned for in 2016 — some exciting destinations are in the works that you will want to be part of! Outside the Rails Books will also be on hand sending some of their books — including new route guides from Chicago to St. Louis and Chicago to Milwaukee. And, last, but not least, from 12:00N to 4:00PM on Saturday, February 20th, “Junior Ranger Aida” will be making an appearance at the APRHF Rail Rangers booth. You may recall Aida has earned more than 220 National Park Service Junior Ranger badges — and she’s just 14 years old. Aida earned her 209th Junior Ranger Badge from the APRHF while on a visit to La Plata, Missouri on July 19th, 2015. She will be encouraging children and teens to visit national parks and to participate in the APRHF Junior Rail Rangers program.

If you aren’t able to come and visit us in Madison this weekend, make sure you follow APRHF Rail Rangers on Facebook at www.facebook.com/railrangers – we will post updates from the weekend there and information about our upcoming trips. If you are not on Facbeook, there will be an article coming soon here to the APRHF page about our upcoming 2016 trips.

Details on New La Plata Event to be Announced March 5th!

The countdown is on and the anticipation is high!! Bob Cox, the President of the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation (APRHF), and Robert Tabern, the Executive Director of APRHF Rail Rangers program will soon be making an big announcement concerning an event that is planned to take place between Chicago and La Plata, Missouri later this fall.

Robert Tabern says, “We don’t want to give too much away before everything is ready to be announced… but this will be a huge for railfans and non-railfans alike. Possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, if you ask me. My hints for you will be — we are giving people the chance to do something they have never been able to do before in the history of La Plata — and once this event is announced — people better call in right away and get their tickets — because only 10 people will be allowed to participate in this event. A very limited, limited opportunity.”

What could it be? Do you also have more questions than answers?

Bob Cox responded by saying, “It has been a real pleasure to be able to put something of this magnitude together. And yes, like Robert said, this has never happened before in the history of La Plata, and we don’t know if we will get the chance to offer something like this again to our visitors out here. But, boy, this is going to be a fun weekend for everyone.”

To be among the first people to hear the announcement, you will need to tune in to APRHF’s “Let’s Talk Trains” program LIVE on Saturday, March 5, 2016 at NOON Central Time. Host “Kansas City Nathan” will be interviewing APRHF Rail Rangers Executive Director Robert Tabern and APRHF Rail Rangers Assistant Chicago Coordinator Kandace Tabern from NOON to 1:30PM on the broadcast, at which time the exclusive announcement about the La Plata event will be revealed.

Information about the La Plata event and other information about the APRHF Rail Rangers’ 2016 schedule will also be posted on the APRHF website immediately after the Saturday, March 5th “Let’s Talk Trains” broadcast.

APRHF Rail Rangers was founded on Monday, July 20, 2015, as an affiliate of the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation in La Plata, Missouri. APRHF Rail Rangers provide educational, but also fun, interpretive programs aboard private railcar and group excursions. Current partners include Friends of the 261, Zephyr Route, and American Rail Excursions. The APRHF Rail Rangers is managed by APRHF President Bob Cox, APRHF Vice-President Amy Cox, Executive Director Robert Tabern, and Assistant Chicago Coordinator Kandace Tabern. Interpretive guides include Kathleen Bruecker, Robert Neil, Dave Poole, Fred Glure, and Joe Kucyznski. APRHF Rail Rangers shares a dual headquarters in La Plata, Missouri and Wadsworth, Illinois.