We wanted to take a quick moment and let everyone know that tickets for both of the APRHF Rail Rangers’ Premier Private Rail Excursions have now “sold out”… and only a wait list is available. This includes the August 19-22, 2017 Great American Solar Eclipse Trip between Chicago and La Plata, Missouri (with a motorcoach extension down to Boonville, MO for eclipse viewing) … and the October 13-15, 2017 Fall Colors Trip between Chicago and St. Paul-Minneapolis, Minnesota (with an optional motorcoach tour of the Twin Cities). These are considered our two “premiere” trips of the year because our APRHF Rail Rangers Interpretive Guides hand-crafted the itineraries for passengers on these trips along with our partners at Zephyr Route Tours of St. Charles, Illinois. We saw heavier than expected demand for these trips after newspaper articles recently appeared in the Chicago Tribune and Milwaukee Journal promoting these excursions. Unfortunately, due to the limited number of available private railcars kept in Chicago and the cost/logistics involved of adding extra cars, these excursions will be kept to just one full-length dome on the Missouri trip and two stainless steel ex-California Zephyr observation cars on the Minnesota trip. If you are still interested in being put on the wait list for either of these trips, you can contact Zephyr Route Tours at (630) 542-3607. Zephyr Route handles the ticketing for these trips, while the APRHF Rail Rangers provides the narration, coordinates off-train itineraries, and designed route guide sheets and guidebooks.
Due to the heavy demand we experienced from passengers this year, the APRHF Rail Rangers are very tentatively planning to work with Zephyr Route Tours again in 2018 to offer similar versions of these “premiere” trips. A spring or summer trip by private rail to La Plata, Missouri will likely focus on an Amish weekend experience – with a visit to Jamesport, Missouri, the largest Amish settlement west of the Mississippi River. A fall colors trip to Minnesota will also be likely in early or mid-October 2018.
So how can you be among the first to get tickets for our partners’ excursions so you are not left on the waiting list in the future? There are two simple ways to get priority access to ticketing to our “premiere” trips! The APRHF Rail Rangers offers an E-newsletter service that provides updates on trips and news about our group. Those on our E-newsletter service are among the first people to know about upcoming private rail excursions that will feature our Interpretive Guides aboard. To be added, head over to the Rail Rangers’ website at www.railrangers.org. Click on the tab that says “Contact” and scroll down to where it says “Insiders E-newsletter”. Click on this link and then fill out and submit the form. We do not sell e-mail addresses to anyone and only send one e-mail every month or so to keep you updated on our excursions and outreach events — no spam guaranteed. We also encourage those interested in the APRHF Rail Rangers to “like us” on Facebook as sometimes we post special news about our excursions there. Our Facebook page can be found at www.facebook.com/railrangers. New trip announcements will be posted to these two locations first before they are released to any newspapers, media outlets, or other advertising sources.
If you are still looking to take a trip with the APRHF Rail Rangers this summer or fall, we do have several options available that still have tickets available. Here is a look at those trips:
SATURDAY, JUNE 24, 2017: The APRHF Rail Rangers is partnering with Zephyr Route Tours to offer passengers a “taste” of what a private rail excursions is all about. This day-time roundtrip in a full-length dome car allows passengers to travel between the Chicago area (Chicago, La Grange Road, or Naperville) and either Galesburg, Illinois or Hannibal, Missouri. Passengers heading to Galesburg will get approximately seven hour of free time at the annual Galesburg Railroad Days Festival before heading back to Chicago. Passengers heading to Hannibal, MO will de-train in Quincy, Illinois and head to Mark Twain’s hometown by motorcoach for about four hours of free time. Hannibal passengers can also take an optional riverboat cruise on the Mississippi River. More information can be found on our website, www.railrangers.org.
SATURDAY, JUNE 24, 2017: In a test partnership with the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago, an APRHF Rail Rangers Interpretive Guide will be aboard a chartered Amtrak coach car between Chicago and Galesburg, Illinois. This day-time round-trip will take passengers from Chicago to Galesburg, Illinois and back. Travelers will get approximately seven hours to have a self-guided experience at the annual Galesburg Railroad Days Festival. There’s a lot to do there… including a train show, tours of the BNSF Hump Yard, and Carnival-style games and food. More information can be found on our website, www.railrangers.org.
SATURDAY, JULY 8, 2017: Learn about such interesting topics as the Gateway Arch and Geyser, Abraham Lincoln, Route 66, and the Illinois & Michigan Canal while traveling with the APRHF Rail Rangers between St. Louis, Missouri and Chicago, Illinois. Guides will be aboard this excursion organized by our friends at American Rail Excursions. Ride aboard an observation car while enjoying the Illinois countryside in this post-Independence Day trip. You won’t want to miss out. Even seasoned Illinois residents will learn something from our onboard educational program. More information can be found on our website, www.railrangers.org.
SUNDAY, JULY 9, 2017: Ride more than 400 miles on the ol’ Milwaukee Road as our friends at American Rail Excursions sponsor this trip between Chicago, Milwaukee, and the Twin Cities. You will get to experience the hustle and bustle of the Chicago and Milwaukee area, the rolling hills through Central Wisconsin, and more than 100 miles along the Mississippi River in Minnesota… all while having expert APRHF Rail Rangers guides aboard your train. If you were not able to get tickets to the Fall Colors 2017 trip, this is an excellent choice to ride as it’s on the same route. More information can be found on our website, www.railrangers.org.
SATURDAY, JULY 15, 2017: Join APRHF Rail Rangers guides aboard the return trip (see above) from St. Paul, MN to Chicago; sponsored by American Rail Excursions.
SUNDAY, JULY 16, 2017: Join APRHF Rail Rangers guides aboard the return trip (see above) from Chicago to St. Louis, MO; sponsored by American Rail Excursions.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2017: All aboard for the North Pole Express! Head up to St. Paul Union Depot in Minnesota as APRHF Rail Rangers’ Interpretive Guides volunteer on the Friends of the 261 North Pole Express train. This is quickly becoming an annual tradition in the Twin Cities. While there will be multiple departures on weekends in December, this is the only date that members from our group will be aboard to meet and greet with visitors.
ADDITIONAL DATES: We expect possibly between one and three new excursions to still be announced for 2017. Stay tuned to our E-newsletter service and Facebook page for updates! (We will also post information here on aprhf.org, however those on our E-newsletter and Facebook get first notice of excursions)
PUBLIC RAIL TRIPS: As you likely know by now, our public programs on the Hoosier State Train between Lafayette, Indiana and Chicago, Illinois came to an end on February 26, 2017. This occurred because our partner, Iowa Pacific Holdings, ceased providing the on-board services for this train on February 28th. After discussion with the Indiana Department of Transportation, we learned that we would have to stop providing our programs because the new provider, Amtrak, did not want our services for their passengers. Many of our Interpretive Guides felt having a public rail program in addition to our private rail excursions was a huge asset. Because of this, we have been in heavy negotiations with another public rail provider to begin our onboard educational programs. If things move along in a positive direction, we hope to make an announcement soon about this effort; guides could be on the train as early as the first week in August 2017 if things pan out.
As you can see, things are going immensely well for the APRHF Rail Rangers as we will begin our third year of operations on July 20, 2017. We appreciate the support of all of our fans, as well as the support of our private rail partners – Friends of the 261, Zephyr Route, American Rail Excursions, Paxrail, Friends of the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, Iowa Pacific, and the 20th Century Railroad Club (test partnership).