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.

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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.

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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.

HERE’S MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE TRIP:

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.

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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

onecniccat@prodigy.net

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.

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Midwest Rail Rangers Roundhouse E-Newsletter #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.

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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.

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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: onecniccat@prodigy.net.

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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.

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

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New Private Car Trip Announced: Chicago to Carbondale, IL Round-Trip on Saturday, June 8, 2019

As you probably have heard by now… record flooding is hitting parts of the Upper Midwest very hard. In fact, as I write this… Amtrak has announced that it will suspend operations of the famed California Zephyr between Chicago and Denver for the next couple of days due to deteriorating conditions and freight traffic in Iowa on the Union Pacific “detour route” that it had been using the last week or so. Well, all the flood waters will be heading south and east into the Mississippi River… eventually going down to New Orleans.  In anticipation of this… emergency management officials have decided they will need to keep the spillways open for the next several months.  This means the City of New Orleans will terminate in Jackson, Mississippi… with passengers being bused between there and New Orleans through at least June. Sadly, this will impact the private car trip that we had announced and were planning to do in partnership with the owner of “Hollywood Beach” on the weekend of May 4th and May 5th. This nearly sold-out trip is officially CANCELLED due to the flooding. We were looking forward to narrate for a select group of passengers between New Orleans and Memphis… but it was not meant to be.

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But, we at the Midwest Rail Rangers are known for not giving up!  So, we will be replacing the original trip we had planned with a special round-trip day-trip from Chicago down to Carbondale… also using “Hollywood Beach”.  We want to give those of you on our “Roundhouse E-Newsletter” List the first crack at tickets… so mark your calendar for Saturday, June 8th… and below are the details and pricing that you need to know.

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”.

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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… as well as those who follow our blog, Facebook site, and Twitter Feed. 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.

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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

onecniccat@prodigy.net

 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.

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Private Car Trip Added! Midwest Rail Rangers Goes Hollywood… Hollywood Beach, that is!

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Hopefully you got the very special edition of our E-Newsletter on Wednesday morning. However, in case you missed the BIG NEWS… we are proud to announce that the Midwest Rail Rangers is now its own independent 501(c)(3) educational non-profit.  With a headquarters much closer to where our private rail car trips, South Shore Line public trips, Amtrak coach charters, and outreach events are… we look forward to serving you even better than we have before. The Rail Rangers had been part of the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation for almost the past four years now… but it is time to spread our wings. We wish them well in their future endeavors. And thank you to everyone who has shared a kind word or two in the past couple of days — or has opened up their wallets and made a donation so our general fund we can be off to a good start.

But… that is not all!

In order to celebrate this big change, we are hoping to do our first on-board educational program outside of the Upper Midwest!  That’s right — the Midwest Rail Rangers are heading to the Deep South! (But no, we won’t be changing our name again!)  We want to take YOU and seven others along for the ride.

The Midwest Rail Rangers is in a test partnership agreement with Keith White, the owner of private car “Hollywood Beach”, for a once-in-a-lifetime trip down to the Big Easy.

That’s right — New Orleans.

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This special trip will leave from Chicago Union Station on Tuesday, April 30, 2019 at 8:00pm. You will ride in style on the back of Amtrak’s famed “City of New Orleans” train. You will sleep good knowing you’re riding down the historic Illinois Central — more than 300 miles down to the far southern tip of Illinois.  From there, it’s a hop, skip, and a jump across the Ohio River into Kentucky… and by the time you are waking up on Wednesday, May 1st, you will be in Memphis, Tennessee. Sit back and relax during the morning hours as the train passes through the Delta Region of Mississippi. By the time lunch rolls around… you’ll be crossing into Louisiana.  Be on the lookout for gators… sometimes you can see them along the tracks as you ‘round Lake Pontchartrain.  “Hollywood Beach” will be your unforgettable “hotel on wheels” for the evenings of Wednesday, May 1st… Thursday, May 2nd… and Friday, May 3rd at New Orleans’ trains station. Come and go as you want.  There’s a lot of options to sightsee around New Orleans (and do we dare mention there are a lot of street cars to ride, too?).

The Midwest Rail Rangers will join in on the festivities in New Orleans on the afternoon of Saturday, May 4th. Two of our Interpretive Guides will ride aboard “Hollywood Beach” to present an on-board educational program between New Orleans, Louisiana and Memphis, Tennessee as you begin your northbound journey home. We’ll talk swamps, jazz music, Civil War history… and a lot more. As they say… not knowing what you are seeing out your window on a train ride… is like watching the Travel Channel or History Channel on mute. Your trip will come to life as you learn about all of the interesting small towns the train passes through in Southern Louisiana and South and Central Mississippi.  The trip comes to a close on the morning of Sunday, May 5th… as we all roll back into the Windy City of Chicago!

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Since the Midwest Rail Rangers was founded in July 2015, we have never attempted to do an on-board educational program outside of the Upper Midwest… and it may be a very long time before it ever happens again. We would love to teach you and your fellow passengers about this exciting region of our country. But, you need to act now!  Why?  We want this trip to be an intimate experience for our passengers — so ticket sales will be limited to just the first eight people who respond. Yes, only eight people will get to go on this fantastic and memorable trip with the Midwest Rail Rangers to learn all about the Deep South and New Orleans.

And how could we not mention the fantastic private car, “Hollywood Beach”?  It is a five-bedroom lounge car with two shower facilities, no less than 24 pieces of beautifully framed railroad art-work depicting scenes of its Seaboard Air Line heritage. It is equipped with TV, DVD, CD, and radio reception, as well as electrical outlets dispersed throughout the car.  The solarium lounge, where our on-board educational program will take place on Saturday, May 4th from New Orleans to Memphis, offers new tinted glass throughout… including the dome.  The views equal or exceed any rail transit car in the world. There is even a large library of books, official guides, and timetables of the Seaboard Air Line.

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The fare is a very reasonable $2,995 per person, double occupancy for one of the bedrooms on “Hollywood Beach”.  (Remember, you will be saving a lot of money by sleeping on the car in New Orleans instead of paying for a high-priced hotel room on Bourbon Street!  Plus, sleep soundly at the station away from the noisy crowds and bars when it’s time to retire.)

In order to make this trip “a go”, the Midwest Rail Rangers need all eight spots to be sold… but we’re hoping that this won’t be a problem thanks to you.  We would love to come and put on a special on-board educational program away from our home region and to have you be a part.  Remember —- with the restrictions that Amtrak put on private car moves about a year ago —– these type of trips out of Chicago are becoming more and more rare.  Jump on this chance before it might be too late someday in the future.

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Because we are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization — the Midwest Rail Rangers will only be presenting the on-board educational program on “Hollywood Beach”; we are not allowed to sell tickets for this excursion.  If you are interested in going, please contact:  Mr. Keith R. White, 2904 Chevy Chase Lane, Naperville, IL  60564.  If you have questions, you should e-mail Mr. White at onecniccat@prodigy.net.  E-mail is preffered, but he can also be contacted by calling (708) 446-1269.   Checks should be made payable to “Keith’s Rail Way, LLC”.

****IN ORDER TO GET THE SPECIAL DISCOUNTED PRICE OF $2,995 MENTIONED ABOVE, YOU MUST MENTION THE “MIDWEST RAIL RANGERS DEAL” WHEN MAKING THIS RESERVATION (INCLUDING IF YOU MAIL A CHECK IN OR BOOK OVER E-MAIL).****

We apologize for the short notice of this private car trip — but we were waiting until we got out official clearance we were a 501(c)(3) non-profit… and that just happened earlier this week.

If you live near St. Louis, there is a boarding option for you at St. Louis Gateway Terminal for the same price. This car will be “dead-heading” to Chicago on April 29th and “dead-heading” back home to St. Louis on May 6th.  Limited space may be available for day passengers, however we really want riders to join us for the whole run — especially for our narration on the afternoon of Saturday, May 4th between New Orleans and Memphis.

Midwest Rail Rangers to Become Independent 501(c)(3) Non-Profit on March 10, 2019; No Longer Affiliated with APRHF

The Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors is excited to announce that the on-going transition of our organization into an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit will finally be complete, as of Sunday, March 10, 2019.

Looking back, our formal on-board educational efforts launched more than six years ago. Between December 2012 and July 2015, our group of volunteers provided on-board educational programs to more than 50,000 passengers on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief train through portions of Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri. During that time period, we were affiliated with Trails & Rails… an organization run up by the National Park Service that oversaw narration on numerous Amtrak train routes across the United States. Our local Trails & Rails group was additionally co-sponsored by the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation (APRHF) in La Plata, Missouri, which helped to fund hotel rooms for our Chicago-based Interpretive Guides during their layovers.

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In July 2015, Trails & Rails management decided they no longer wanted to partner with private non-profit organizations, such as the APRHF. This resulted in the Chicago-to-La Plata, MO Trails & Rails program ending, but almost immediately re-launching itself as the APRHF Rail Rangers. The original sole focus of the APRHF Rail Rangers was to provide on-board educational programs aboard private rail excursions. Numerous private railcar owners saw the value of having experienced Interpretive Guides aboard their excursions… including Friends of the 261, Zephyr Route Tours, American Rail Excursions, Friends of the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, Paxrail, and the 20th Century Railroad Club. Our group of Interpretive Guides had very busy schedule almost right off the bat… narrating on private rail trips across seven states in the Upper Midwest. The APRHF Rail Rangers continued to grow in recent years… with Interpretive Guides providing on-board educational programs on public rail trips too, including Iowa Pacific’s Hoosier State (November 2016 to February 2017) and the South Shore Line (August 2017 to Current)… giving off-the-train historical power point presentations/talks… and adding PDF e-books and MP3 podcasts to the collection of railroad route guides for sale.

The APRHF Board of Directors and leadership with-in the Rail Rangers reached an agreement in December 2018 that called for the Rail Rangers to be spun off into its own independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The transition process commenced on December 23, 2018 with the newly re-named Midwest Rail Rangers becoming a temporary chapter of the APRHF. This allowed the Rail Rangers to remain non-for-profit, while obtaining its own general liability insurance policy and tax-exempt status with the IRS and State of Wisconsin.

Both of these tasks and all other necessary paperwork have been completed, and the Midwest Rail Rangers will break all affiliations with the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation on March 10, 2019… including its temporary “chapter status”.

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Midwest Rail Rangers President Robert Tabern explains, “There are many reasons why leaving the APRHF at this time is a necessary step for the continued growth of the Midwest Rail Rangers. Instead of having a headquarters in rural Northeast Missouri, a location more than 300 miles away from most of our activities…. our new organization is incorporated in Elm Grove, Wisconsin, a vibrant western suburb of Milwaukee. This will help our marketing and communications going forward, as our new headquarters city is situated much closer to where most of our private rail trips, public rail trips, and outreach events take place… in addition to being much closer to where most of our Interpretive Guides actually reside.”

The Midwest Rail Rangers will now be overseen by a new pro-active hands-on Board of Directors made up of our own Interpretive Guides who will meet multiple times per year to make sure things are headed in the right direction for our group.

Finally, our supporters can now be assured that all of their tax-deductible donations will stay completely with-in the Rail Rangers program and will be used for on-board educational programs… instead of funneled into other projects that often had very little to do directly with railroad history and on-board education.

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Tabern adds, “We have a bright future… and to that we owe our thanks for our increasing numbers of supporters who know that ‘not knowing what you are seeing out your window, is like watching the Travel Channel with the audio turned off’!  We are glad you have stuck with us through a lot of changes.”

All on-board educational programs scheduled for 2019 will continue as scheduled… including a handful of private rail excursions, five Amtrak coach charters with the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago, and nearly one dozen outreach events.  In fact, the Midwest Rail Rangers is in final negotiations stages with the South Shore Line/NICTD for a new contract that would secure on-board educational programs would continue through atleast March 2021. Plus, there is work to a secure a big new partnership agreement when it comes to the South Shore Line programs!   (Stay tuned for more on these soon!)

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TO HELP US BUILD UP A RESERVE FUND FOR OUR NEW 501(C)(3) NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION, PLEASE HEAD TO RAILRANGERS.ORG AND CLICK ON THE “MAKE A DONATION” BUTTON ON THE UPPER LEFT-HAND SIDE OF THE SCREEN.  ALL DONATIONS ARE NOW TAX-DEDUCTIBLE AS OUR NON-PROFIT STATUS HAS BEEN APPROVED BY THE IRS!   DONATIONS OF $20 OR MORE WILL RECEIVE A SPECIAL “THANK YOU” GIFT.

 

New Private Car Trip Announced: Dome Car Ride for Just $75! Tickets Going Quick!

The Midwest Rail Rangers will partner with the Friends of the 261 on May 19, 2019!

The Midwest Rail Rangers will be partnering up with the Friends of the 261 once again coming up this spring!  Did you know that the Friends of the 261 was one of the original two private car partners with the Midwest Rail Rangers (the other partner is Zephyr Route Tours!).  In fact, five years before the Midwest Rail Rangers was even founded MRR President Robert Tabern was working with Friends of the 261 Steve Sandberg to provide route guides and route narration on various excursions across the Upper Midwest.

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Well… get your calendars and credit cards out… because the Midwest Rail Rangers will be part of the Friends of the 261’s “Windy City Express”… which will operate on the back of Amtrak’s Empire Builder in about two-and-a-half months from now.

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The eastbound portion of the excursion will depart St. Paul Union Depot in Minnesota on the morning of Thursday, May 16, 2019… en route to Milwaukee and Chicago later that afternoon.  You will have two days to explore around Chicago at your own pace.  The westbound portion of the excursion will depart Chicago Union Station in Illinois on the afternoon of Sunday, May 19, 2019… en route to Milwaukee later that afternoon and on to St. Paul, Minnesota later that evening.

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This trip has been designed by the Friends of the 261 to be easily accessible for anyone living in the Twin Cities, Milwaukee, or Chicago… You can ride the entire round-trip between the Twin Cities and Milwaukee or Chicago on May 16th & May 19th for just $279 per person. Or ride one-way for $199 per person.  “Short haul” tickets are also available between Milwaukee and Chicago on May 16th… and between Chicago and Milwaukee on May 19th for just $75 per person.  What a great deal to ride in a vintage dome car!

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The Midwest Rail Rangers will be participating in this excursion only on Sunday, May 19th between Chicago-Union Station, IL and Milwaukee, WI.  We will have three of our Interpretive Guides available to greet passengers at Union Station… and then we will be doing narration for the first 85 miles of the trip. Come out and learn about the rich history of Chicago… see the famous “Ferris Bueller Water Tower”‘… learn about the Armour Estate, which the train passes through… and what’s up with all the fields of cabbage in Racine County?  We’ll share more Milwaukee trivia and lore as we wind our way up across the Wisconsin border.  Free route guide handouts will be provided to all passengers who want one… we will also be selling our Chicago-Milwaukee ($20) and Chicago-St. Paul ($15/$35) route guide books so you will know about the rest of your journey up to the Twin Cities that evening.

$75 is a very good price for this one-way journey between Chicago and Milwaukee on Sunday, May 19th. We would love to fill up the whole dome car of fans who enjoy listening to the Midwest Rail Rangers On-Board Educational Programs!

The Friends of the 261’s new dome car “Silver Palace” will be featured on the eastbound trip to Chicago on Thursday, May 16th… while both “Silver Palace” and the Milwaukee Road full-length Super Dome will be featured on the westbound trip on Sunday, May 19th where the Midwest Rail Rangers will be narrating.

Tickets are expected to SELL OUT with-in weeks with this great $75 price between Chicago and Milwaukee… so call your friends… and make reservations very soon!!!   We do have one favor to ask though — when purchasing your tickets and when you ride — please tell the Friends of the 261 staff that you heard about this trip through the Midwest Rail Rangers. The more folks who mention the Rail Rangers… makes our partnership with our private car partners that much stronger… and that helps our 501(c)(3) non-profit group to have our guides on more excursions like this.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS NOW!

The Midwest Rail Rangers is also a proud supporter of the Friends of the 261’s North Pole Express Train. Every year, our Interpretive Guides put down their microphone for a day and help entertain passengers on this annual holiday steam train ride in St. Paul. We will be heading up there and working the train on Saturday, December 7, 2019 this year!  Tickets will go on sale this fall, but mark your calendar now and plan to join us for this special weekend, which serves as the most important fundraiser for Friends of the 261.

Finally — look for a very special edition of “The Roundhouse” coming out NEXT WEEK. We have some very exciting news to share about our future… as we transition into our own independent non-profit organization.

Midwest Rail Rangers Teams with Zephyr Route to Present Narrated Dome Car Ride in October 2019

Want to ride more than 800 miles in a vintage 1950’s dome car? Tickets going QUICK!

The Midwest Rail Rangers is excited to partner with Zephyr Route tours once again in 2019 for an exciting dome car ride through Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

As you probably already know… private car trips on heritage equipment have become a lot more rare since Amtrak increased costs and put many new restrictions on private car owners. Despite this, Zephyr Route tours is proud to announce it will be organizing a dome car trip between Chicago-Union Station and St. Paul-Union Depot this fall. You can ride more than 800 miles in a former Great Northern full-length dome car.

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This trip departs Chicago at 2:15PM CT on October 4, 2019. Passengers may also board at Glenview, Milwaukee, or the other Central Wisconsin stops by special arrangement. Arrive in St. Paul just after 10:00PM the same evening… but not before enjoying a dinner prepared freshly aboard the train. You can explore the Twin Cities on your own or take a city tour of St. Paul for a nominal additional charge on Saturday, October 5, 2019. You will re-board the dome car around 7:30AM CT on Sunday, October 6th and ride back to your starting location.

This will be a VERY RARE opportunity in 2019 to ride about a private rail excursion… so don’t miss out… book sooner than later… as this trip often fills up months in advance.

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Volunteer Interpretive Guides with the Midwest Rail Rangers will be providing an onboard educational program for passengers on this excursion. Learn about the urban corridor between Chicago and Milwaukee… the very scenic “driftless region” of South Central Wisconsin… and lots of Mississippi River ‘lore as we travel the banks of the Mighty Mississippi during peak fall color season. There are a lot of stories you will enjoy hearing from the Midwest Rail Rangers in the 400+ miles between Chicago and St. Paul.

For more information, click here.

All ticket sales and trip logistics is handled by Zephyr Route Tours. The Midwest Rail Rangers is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides onboard educational programs, but does not handle the sales of tickets for excursions.

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We hope to see you aboard. Again, please book soon. Given this is one of the few private rail excursions out of Chicago in 2019 — tickets will go very fast. We want those on our Midwest Rail Rangers E-Newsletter “Round House” List to get the premium seats/spots.

Zephyr Route, headed by private car owner Mike Abernethy, is one of the charter partners with the Midwest Rail Rangers… and has used our services since our creation in July 2015. We value and thank Mike for all he does to keep private rail excursions alive! Midwest Rail Rangers have provided guides for Zephyr Route’s trips every year for the past five years now. One of our most popular trips was in August 2017 to see the total solar eclipse at a private horse farm in Booneville, MO.

Midwest Rail Rangers to Present On-board Educational Programs on Five Coach Charter Trips

 

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January 2019 is only 21 days old… but it has been a busy month so for the Midwest Rail Rangers… as we roll along with plans to become our own independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

We had our organization’s first Board Meeting a week ago and it was very productive. Over the next five or six weeks, we’ll be rolling out new uniforms, new handouts and brochures, and other items with our revised Midwest Rail Rangers logo on them.

Our separation from the APRHF has been delayed because of the federal government shutdown — with the IRS unable to approve new non-profit organizations at the current time. In order to keep our liability insurance needed to do our onboard programs and instill a smooth transition, we technically remain a ‘chapter’ of the APRHF. However, we hope this process will be completed as soon as possible. Meanwhile, we will continue providing quality on-board educational programs on the South Shore Line two to three weekends per month… and on private rail excursions when possible.

Just a reminder… please direct all correspondence with the Rail Rangers, including book orders, to: P.O. Box 308, Elm Grove, Wisconsin, 53122. We no longer have a presence in our former headquarters city of La Plata, Missouri and will not be receiving mail there. Also, note that our Passport Stamps and memorabilia that was on display at the APRHF’s Exhibition of Amtrak History have been removed.

Speaking of private rail excursions… it looks like 2019 continue to be a challenging year for private railcar owners and operators. We are still hammering out some possible trips for the upcoming year — and will announce them here when things become more firm.

However… we are really happy to announce that the Midwest Rail Rangers will have our on-board Interpretive Guides on 5 different Amtrak coach charters organized by the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago. We’ll be heading to fun destinations together such as Milwaukee, Quincy, Galesburg, Carbondale, Detroit, Kewaunee, and more! Details on all of these trips are below. We hope to see you on one of these trips soon! Your support for the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago is also key to the success and future of the Midwest Rail Rangers.

Oh, and we added TWO new outreach events the weekend of April 27-28th. Come out and see us that weekend in New Carlisle, IN… Michigan City, IN… or Elk Grove Village, IL.

Here is a look at our planned trips, so far for 2019!


SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2019

20th Century Railroad Club – Amtrak Coach Charter

Chicago to Kewanee, IL (Train) & Quad Cities (Motorcoach)

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You are scheduled to depart Chicago’s Union Station at 7:40am CT and will ride Amtrak’s Carl Sandburg (Train #381) for about 130 miles over to Kewanee, Illinois, arriving at 9:48am. Narration along the old CB&Q main line will be provided by Midwest Rail Rangers’ Interpretive Guides. Sit back, relax, and hear fun and fascinating stories about Cicero and Al Capone, Chicago’s western suburbs, the ‘breadbasket’ region of Central Illinois, and see relics from the tragic Cherry Mine Disaster. After de-training in Kewanee, you will proceed to the Quad Cities area by motor coach. This exciting trip to the western edge of the state features multifaceted attractions for travelers… and offers a perfect opportunity to welcome spring along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River. You will return back to Chicago by train, too, arriving around 10:00pm.

>>For ticketing, pricing, and a more detailed itinerary, please contact the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago at 20thCentury.org. Reference Trip #19-A.


SATURDAY, JUNE 22, 2019

Zephyr Route Tours

Chicago to Galesburg, IL & Quincy, IL & Hannibal, MO

Historic 1950’s Dome Car Charter Trip

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Join Zephyr Route Tours for a ride on the CB&Q line in a historic 1950’s dome car… the train line passes through Chicago, La Grange Road, Naperville, Plano, Mendota, Princeton, Kewanee, Galesburg, Macomb, and Quincy. Aboard the dome car, you will be treated to interesting tidbits of Illinois history from the Midwest Rail Rangers, proud partners of the 20th Century Railroad Club. Learn about Cicero and Al Capone, Chicago’s western suburbs, the ‘breadbasket’ region of Central Illinois, and see relics from the tragic Cherry Mine Disaster. Where is the only place in Illinois to see track-side camels? And just how muddy is Mississippi River water? Those questions and more will be answered on this journey! Narration is provided on the westbound trip, with guides also on the train for the eastbound ride to have informal Q&A with passengers.

>>For ticketing, pricing, and a more detailed itinerary, please contact Zephyr Route Tours at ZephyrRoute.com.


SATURDAY, JUNE 22, 2019

20th Century Railroad Club – Amtrak Coach Charter

Chicago to Galesburg/Quincy/Hannibal Daytrip

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All Aboard for the Destination of your choice! Depart Chicago at 7:40am and ride Amtrak’s Carl Sandburg (Train #381) to either your choice of Galesburg, Illinois or Quincy, Illinois. Travelers heading to Galesburg will have approximately seven hours on their own to enjoy the famous Galesburg Railroad Days event – where there is everything from a memorabilia sale, to carnival rides, to yard tours. Travelers heading to Quincy will proceed to Mark Twain’s Hometown of Hannibal, Missouri for several hours of touring along the banks of the Mississippi River. Regardless of your destination, you will be treated to interesting tidbits of Illinois history from the Midwest Rail Rangers, proud partners of the 20th Century Railroad Club. Learn about Cicero and Al Capone, Chicago’s western suburbs, the ‘breadbasket’ region of Central Illinois, and see relics from the tragic Cherry Mine Disaster. Where is the only place in Illinois to see track-side camels? And just how muddy is Mississippi River water? Those questions and more will be answered on this journey! Narration is provided on the westbound trip, with guides also on the train for the eastbound ride to have informal Q&A with passengers.

>>For ticketing, pricing, and a more detailed itinerary, please contact the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago at 20thCentury.org. Reference Trip #19-B.


FRIDAY, JULY 19 TO SUNDAY, JULY 21, 2019

20th Century Railroad Club – Amtrak Coach Charter

Chicago to Detroit, MI Round-trip Weekend Tour

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One of the most popular destinations in the Upper Midwest for tourists is Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum in suburban Detroit… and after a several year hiatus, the 20th Century Club is returning to town, along with their friends at the Midwest Rail Rangers who will provide your expert narration. You will leave Chicago on Friday, July 19, 2019 on Amtrak’s Wolverine Service (Train #352) at 1:25pm CT and arrive in Detroit at 7:33pm ET. On Saturday July 20, 2019, a step on guide will take you to historical and modern Detroit sites followed by a ride on the Q line Detroit’s new light rail system. Spend all afternoon at the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. Then, return home to Chicago on Amtrak’s Wolverine Service (Train #353), which leaves Detroit at 10:45am ET and arrives into Union Station at 3:05pm CT. The Rail Rangers will be along for at least one leg of the journey to point out all of the interesting people, places, and history as your ride the rails through Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan.

>>For ticketing, pricing, and a more detailed itinerary, please contact the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago at 20thCentury.org. Reference Trip #19-C.


SATURDAY, AUGUST 17, 2019

20th Century Railroad Club – Amtrak Coach Charter

Chicago to Milwaukee (Train) & Green Bay (Motorcoach)

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No visit to Wisconsin would ever be complete without a stop to the National Railroad Museum, located in Green Bay. Now, the 20th Century Railroad Club and the Midwest Rail Rangers are teaming up to take Chicago-area travelers there in one day. Ride the early morning Hiawatha from Chicago to Milwaukee while enjoying thrilling stories from the Midwest Rail Rangers about the north suburbs of Chicago and Southeast Wisconsin. What’s with all the fields of cabbage around Sturtevant? Why is Milwaukee so famous for beer? What is now located on the site of the former Armour Estate… and yes, you can see the blue water tower used in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off from the train… we’ll point it out to you as we narrate one way. After arriving in Milwaukee, enjoy a motorcoach ride up to Green Bay to explore the National Railroad Museum. Return on the evening Hiawatha the same night.

>>For ticketing, pricing, and a more detailed itinerary, please contact the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago at 20thCentury.org. Reference Trip #19-D.


SATURDAY, OCTOBER 26 & SUNDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2019

20th Century Railroad Club – Amtrak Coach Charter

Chicago to Carbondale, IL Round-trip Weekend Tour

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When we have asked travelers where they want future trips to – and more often than not – Southern Illinois has comes up. Why – we asked? Well, many people have told the Midwest Rail Rangers that they have lived in the Chicagoland area their whole life, but they have never gotten the chance to visit the far southern part of their own home state. Avoid the LONG and extremely BORING seven hour drive down Interstate 57… and join the Midwest Rail Rangers and the 20th Century Railroad Club for a fun and exciting weekend in the Shawnee National Forest. You will depart the Windy City at 8:15am on Amtrak’s Saluki/Illini Service (Train #391) on Saturday, October 26… arriving down in Carbondale at 1:45pm. We’ll wisk you away to a winery, challenge your outdoor skills with a fun walk through a scenic state park, and even visit Superman’s Home Town. After an overnight, head back north on Sunday, October 27; Train #392 leaves Carbondale at 4:15pm and is scheduled to get you home before 10:00pm. Ride among friends and explore all that Southern Illinois has to offer! This trip was co-designed by the Midwest Rail Rangers and the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago; narration will be provided round-trip, plus the Rail Rangers will lead an easy hike.

>>For ticketing, pricing, and a more detailed itinerary, please contact the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago at 20thCentury.org. Reference Trip #19-F.

New Name & Look for 2019: APRHF Rail Rangers Become Midwest Rail Rangers

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The following is a important message from APRHF Vice President Robert Tabern and APRHF Secretary Kandace Tabern:

We greet you with some exciting news involving the future of Rail Rangers.

For the past four years, the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation (APRHF) has proudly sponsored the Rail Rangers as one of its outreach affiliates. During that time, the group’s Interpretive Guides have presented dozens of on-board educational programs on private rail excursions across a seven-state region of the Upper Midwest — including traveling through portions of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. Interpretive Guides have also reached out to thousands of passengers on the South Shore Line with their on-board educational programs that occur two to three times per month year-round between Chicago and South Bend, IN. The Rail Rangers have also enjoyed meeting countless supporters over the years at outreach events such as Trainfest, Mad City Rail, and presentations at local libraries and train clubs. We also appreciate your enthusiasm for our railroad route guide books, PDF e-books, and new MP3 podcasts… along with the Rail Rangers’ new historical passenger railroad website collection, such as AmtrakDome.com and PacificParlourCar.com.

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Based on all of these accomplishments… and more that will be announced soon… a decision has been made by the APRHF Board of Directors that now is the time to spin-off the Rail Rangers into its own independent 501(c)(3) non-profit. We are confident that this decision, which was not taken lightly, will better both groups. The APRHF will be able to narrow its focus to its La Plata, Missouri-centered projects, such as the proposed expansion of Lookout Point Park. Meanwhile, the Rail Rangers will be in a much better position to fine-tune their on-board educational efforts…. which will include expanding the number and quality of its programs. The Rail Rangers will also be able to have direct control over incoming donations and finances.

Please know that the goal of everyone on the APRHF Board, and the future Midwest Rail Rangers Board, will be to ensure a smooth and seamless transition for our private and public rail partners and riders. Our hope is that the casual APRHF and Rail Rangers supporter will not even notice any differences.

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The Rail Rangers will continue to work together with our private/charter rail partners — including the Friends of the 261, Zephyr Route, Friends of the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, Paxrail, Iowa Pacific Holdings, and the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago. The Rail Rangers look forward to having our Interpretive Guides on just as many historic private car trips in the Midwest as we did in past years, if not more-so in 2019.  (We hope to begin announcing some private rail trips soon!) . The Rail Rangers will also continue working with the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) to provide our popular South Shore Line programs multiple times per month year-round. In fact, a new contract will soon be signed extending our educational partnership agreement with NICTD through January 2021! The Rail Rangers will also continue production/research of brand new railroad route guide books, e-books, and podcasts in 2019… and continue to build additional historical websites for your enjoyment.

What will mostly occur during this upcoming transition period will be “behind the scenes”… stuff you likely won’t see… but we wanted to briefly share with you. Effective Saturday, December 22, 2018, the Rail Rangers will become a temporary chapter of the APRHF entitled “The Midwest Rail Rangers Chapter of the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation”. This Chapter will remain in place until the paperwork, that was already filed, is approved by the state and federal government for the Rail Rangers to become their own independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Once that takes place, the name will legally change to “Midwest Rail Rangers”.  But hey, just call us the Rail Rangers, okay? We’re all friends around here. We anticipate the whole process to be completed during the first quarter of 2019.

The new Midwest Rail Rangers Board will be made up of its current dedicated Coordinators and Guides… including Robert Tabern (President), Robert Neil (Vice President), Dave Poole (Treasurer), Kathy Bruecker (Secretary), and Kandace Tabern (Educational Officer).

We are happy to remind you that all previously announced Rail Rangers on-board educational programs remain on the schedule… including the following 14 dates for the South Shore Line: December 15 and December 23 in 2018 and January 5, January 19, January 26, February 2, February 23, February 24, March 2, March 9, March 23, April 6, April 13, and April 27 in 2019.  The Rail Rangers will also still make their planned appearance at the Mad City Train Show in Madison, Wisconsin on February 9-10, 2019.  We hope to see you out there… it’s going to be a busy winter and spring for us!

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The Rail Rangers will continue to have their memorabilia items on display at the APRHF’s Exhibition of Amtrak History in La Plata, MO for just a few more weeks — so come and see them soon before they get a new home.
It is important to note that donations and membership dues paid to the APRHF will no longer go towards supporting the Rail Rangers programs, effective immediately… but will be used for other projects in La Plata. You can choose to continue supporting the Rail Rangers by donating directly to their organization… additional information and a donation button is located at www.railrangers.org.

This will also be the final posting about the Rail Rangers program here on www.aprhf.org. To follow the Rail Rangers, you will need to head to www.railrangers.org.  You can use the “Contact Us” link on the left side of the page to sign up for the Rail Rangers E-Newsletter, which will continue to give supporters an early look at upcoming trips and events. You can also follow the Rail Rangers on Facebook at www.facebook.com/railrangers.

Finally, in order to focus our full-time attention on the transition to what will be the Midwest Rail Rangers, the two of us will be stepping down from APRHF’s Board of Directors effective Friday, December 21, 2018. It has been a pleasure serving as your Vice President and Secretary for the past two years. We thank the APRHF for their support over the past four years of the Rail Rangers — we’re honored to keep your vision alive. We also wish the APRHF good luck with whatever projects they decide to undertake in the future.  We will continue to write monthly articles for TrainWeb, which is under the leadership of our good friend Steve Grande.

We hope to see you soon… All Aboard with the Rail Rangers!

Thanks,
Robert & Kandace Tabern
APRHF Vice President & Secretary

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