Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #32 – 5/23/2021

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Dear Friends and Supporters,

In a sign that things are starting to creep back to “normal”… the Midwest Rail Rangers are proud to announce that we are offering TWO private car trip coming up later this summer. These trips are just 8 weeks away (sorry for the short notice), which means the pre-sale to those on our Midwest Rail Rangers E-Newsletter this will only last a few day before we have to share the trip information with the general public. That means if you are interested — BOOK NOW (or at least by mid-week!).  We do expect both of these trips to SELL OUT very quickly since the number of private car trips offered this year is expected to be extremely limited across the Midwest.

Both trips offered below will be aboard “Hollywood Beach”… a beautiful 1956 observation car constructed for the Seaboard Air Line Railroad. As you can see by the photos of the car, it has some of the largest windows of any single-level passenger car. And, the dome-like ceiling lets you see pretty much in any direction. 

TRIP #1 : Friday, July 23 & Sunday, July 25, 2021

STL to KC (Friday) / Day on your own in KC (Saturday) / KC to STL (Sunday)

This excursion will depart St. Louis, MO at 4:00pm CT on Friday, July 23. The train gets into Kansas City, MO at 9:40pm CT the same day. Passengers will have Saturday, July 24th on their own in Kansas City, or can take the second private car trip mentioned below. The return westbound trip will depart Kansas City, MO at 8:15am CT on Sunday, July 25. This train gets into St. Louis, MO at 1:55pm CT the same day. This trip primarily serves as a fundraiser for the restoration of Louisville Railroad Company’s Seaboard Observation Car #6400, built in 1939, which was just acquired by the railroad. Tickets are extremely limited but are open to the public. $500 for round-trip passage; absolutely no one-way fares available. When you are ready to book tickets, please contact Mr. John Owen at ontrackkentucky@gmail.com or (502) 416-8143. (Mention the Midwest Rail Rangers when you call to get the $500/pp fare). This excursion will feature author Robert Tabern aboard who is the Director of Passenger Development with the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad. He will give a brief talk about the railroad’s on-going efforts to rehabilitate the Mark Twain Zephyr. There will also be a book sale and signing of “Mark Twain Zephyr: History, Restoration, and Rebirth” Volume 1 & 2. Kandace Tabern, with the Midwest Rail Rangers will also be aboard providing brief historical narration about some of the towns along the route. This trip is expected to sell out quickly, so book now. The trip will only operate if a minimum number of passengers is reached to make costs at least break even; full refunds will be given if trip is cancelled by the excursion organizer. 

TRIP #2: Saturday, July 24, 2021

KC-STL-KC Roundtrip in a Day (Saturday)

This excursion is a daytrip from Kansas City to St. Louis and return. The train will depart Kansas City, MO at 8:15am and arrive in St. Louis at 1:55pm on Saturday, July 24, 2021. If the train is running on-time, passengers will only have about one-and-a-half hours of free time in St. Louis. Note, this is probably not enough time to make it over to the St. Louis Arch or other places for a tour, however you might have time to explore the old Union Station briefly. The train will then leave St. Louis, MO at 4:00pm CT, and arrive back in Kansas City at 9:40pm CT. Tickets are extremely limited but are open to the public. $349 for round-trip passage; no one-way fares available. Note that this an approximate 13½-hour, 540-mile-long roundtrip that begins and ends in Kansas City, MO on Saturday, July 24th. This excursion will feature author Robert Tabern aboard who is the Director of Passenger Development with the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad. He will give a brief talk about the railroad’s on-going efforts to rehabilitate the Mark Twain Zephyr. There will also be a book sale and signing of “Mark Twain Zephyr: History, Restoration, and Rebirth” Volume 1 & 2. Kandace Tabern, with the Midwest Rail Rangers will also be aboard providing brief historical narration about some of the towns along the route. When you are ready to book, please contact Mr. Keith White at onecniccat@prodigy.net or (708) 446-1269. (Mention the Midwest Rail Rangers when you call to get the $349/pp fare).  This trip is expected to sell out quickly, so book now. The trip will only operate if a minimum number of passengers is reached to make costs at least break even; full refunds will be given if trip is cancelled by excursion organizer. 

Note: Tickets are NOT SOLD through the Midwest Rail Rangers for these above trips.  For general questions about these excursions, contact Robert Tabern at (847) 271-1979.  To purchase tickets — contact names, e-mails, and phone numbers are given for each trip organizer/ticket agent in the paragraphs above (either Mr. Owen or Mr. White). AGAIN, we do expect these trips to SELL OUT quickly as they will be promoted by multiple organizations beginning mid next week. So those on our Midwest Rail Rangers E-Newsletter list need to book urgently. 

For both private car trips, meals commensurate to the time of the day are included in your fare, this also includes hors d’oeuvres, snacks, and drinks. No personal food or beverages will be allowed on the private car. Passengers are responsible for their own overnight lodging, meals, entertainment, and all other expenses when not aboard the train.

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #31 – 5/10/2021

Monday, May 10, 2021

Dear Friends and Supporters,

If you are planning to head “UP NORTH” for the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend, we hope you will consider a stop off at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad in Trego, WI… one of our key historical partners. The Midwest Rail Rangers will have our Interpretive Guides helping out at a special OPEN HOUSE EVENT taking place there.

Join us from 10:00AM to 4:00PM on Saturday, May 29th and Sunday, May 30th at the Wisconsin Great Northern Depot, N6639 Dilly Lake Road, Trego, WI, 54888.  We are located just off U.S. Highway 53 and U.S. Highway 63, between Spooner and Trego, WI.

Midwest Rail Rangers Guides and Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad Staff will be offering guided tours of the interior of the three passenger cars of the Mark Twain Zephyr (“Tom Sawyer”, “Huckleberry Finn”, and “Effie Dean/Car #500”, which have been undergoing a major rehabilitation this past year. See what incredible progress has been made in just really nine months of reconstruction.

Self-guided tours of the exterior of the cars and interior of the Museum Car/Display Car “Becky Thatcher” will also be available.

The Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad owns the Mark Twain Zephyr, while the Midwest Rail Rangers occasionally partners with them to enhance visitor’s historical knowledge about the train set and to provide special programming… much like we have succefully done with their ex-Santa Fe/Amtrak Hi-Level Lounge Car over the past two years. 

A book signing, model railroad exhibit, video presentations, and more will take place.

And yes, there is even such a thing as a “free lunch”!  From 11:00am (until gone) every day, stop by and grab your choice of a hot dog or sloppy joe sandwich with sides, on us.

MEANWHILE, IN OTHER NEWS…

We will be having a Midwest Rail Rangers Board Meeting on the evening of Monday, May 17th. Leaders of the group will be discussing what our Summer and Fall 2021 Season might look like on private rail cars, the South Shore Line, 20th Century Trips, and more.

Unfortunately, the TSA and FRA decided to extend their federal mask mandate for all train passengers through September 13, 2021.  Federal regulations apply to trains regardless of local or state mandates. The federal mandate on masks was initially set to expire later this week. 

Giving narration for a long period of time with a mask on can be quite a complicated task and is not something all of our Guides are or may be comfortable with.

On the flip side, others on our Board and many of the Guides are also eager to provide some programming to passengers this summer… at least in a limited capacity.

This is something we are seriously thinking over during the weeks ahead with our partners and will have more information for you in the next Midwest Rail Rangers E-Newsletter.

SOME GOOD NEWS…

“Save The Date” for July 23-25, 2021. We received word of a POSSIBLE private car trip opportunity the Midwest Rail Rangers MIGHT be involved in. Once it becomes more definite, we will pass the details along to you.  While not “rare mileage”, this is a route that the Midwest Rail Rangers has never provided an onboard educational program on before.

          Sincerely,

          Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

          Robert Tabern, President

          Bob Neil, Vice President

          Dave Poole, Treasurer

          Kathy Bruecker, Secretary

          Kandace Tabern, Educational Officer