Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #34 – 7/31/2021: Return to South Shore ‘A Success’ & 20th Century Trips ‘Back on Track’

In-person educational programs conducted by the Midwest Rail Rangers aboard South Shore Line trains were “suspended” for a long fifteen-and-a-half months due to the COVID-19 Pandemic… but now, we are back!

Our first program took place on Thursday, July 1, 2021… with three of the five Board Members serving as Guides to make sure things went smoothly. A second program with Interpretive Guide Bruce Stahl as narrator, took place last weekend, also without any glitches.

Midwest Rail Rangers President Robert Tabern says, “We are very excited to be back on the South Shore Line and interacting with passengers once again. Things are not quite back to ‘normal’ – we must continue to wear masks when on trains and at the stations through at least September 13, 2021 – however being able to share all of the history and nature out the window… even with a mask on… is a wonderful thing. We really missed everyone… and based off the first two trips we have done in July… the riders have missed us too. We had several people who came out just to ride with us and hear our in-person programming. A mom and daughter drove down from Traverse City, Michigan on our July 1st trip. We will continue to present our programs in a safe and professional manner, as we always have done since partnering with the South Shore Line back in mid-2017.”

Two to three times per month, year-round, Interpretive Guides with the Midwest Rail Rangers will be riding onboard select trains between Chicago’s Millennium Station and South Bend, Indiana’s Airport Station. Topics discussed include anything from Chicago trivia to the historic steel-making area of Northwest Indiana, Indiana Dunes State and National Parks, and even information about the rural “breadbasket of America”, when passing through western LaPorte and St. Joseph Counties.

In addition to increased safety protocols, two other noticeable administrative changes are now in place. The Midwest Rail Rangers programs on the South Shore are now official interpretive programs of the Indiana Dunes State Park. During the Pandemic-induced pause, a formal deal was struck between the Midwest Rail Rangers Corporation and Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources. This is a true win-win for both organizations. Also, Thursdays have been added as a date where programs may take place on off-peak trains. This is something the Board had lobbied for, knowing not everyone is off only on just weekends, when programming had previously been offered. This move also makes it easier for volunteers who are free on weekdays, but not on Saturdays and Sundays due to their employment or other concerns.

A listing of our upcoming onboard educational programs on the South Shore Line are included in this news letter and are posted at www.railrangers.org.

We have more “good news” to share with you this afternoon, too… as the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago, one of our closest partners, will return to doing a handful of daytrips this summer and fall. Since 2016, the Midwest Rail Rangers has provided our Interpretive Guides as “car hosts” for some of their excursions on Amtrak charters.

Reservations are NOW being taken for their first trip back… this will be a day-trip on Saturday, September 15, 2021 from Chicago to SW Michigan and NW Indiana. Passengers will get to ride both Amtrak and the South Shore Line… while visiting the National New York Central Museum in Elkhart, Indiana and also the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana. Box lunch included, too!

For more information click THIS LINK! Much like Midwest Rail Rangers and most 501(c)(3) non-profits around the country, the 20th Century Railroad Club was hit hard by the lack of funding received during the pandemic. Trip revenue is very important to the future of our organization and theirs. Please consider taking this wonderful day trip. An additional day trip to Springfield, Illinois with the 20th Century Railroad Club is planned for October. If all goes well, the 20th Century Railroad Club plans to resume is normal schedule of offering overnight excursions, come 2022.