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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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.


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.


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:


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.


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 — — and remember, everything is tax deductible with us being a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Your purchase of railroad route guides at also helps support our group. Choose from books, e-books, or our brand new podcasts.