Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #51 – 11/12/22 – Midwest Rail Rangers release new book; first DVD

Saturday, November 12, 2022

We have some more exciting news to share with you! Not only is today the first time in four years that the Midwest Rail Rangers will be returning to Trainfest in Milwaukee… but it also marks the “release date” for our 19th book and also, yes… our very first DVD.

As a Midwest Rail Rangers E-Newsletter member, you are invited to the very first “public showing” of the DVD. It will take place at 3:30pm this afternoon at Trainfest, which takes place at the Wisconsin State Fair Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Admission to Trainfest is required to attend, however there is no additional cost to participate in the viewing. We hope to see you in the “Janesville Room” at Trainfest for the showing of the 73-minute DVD. Again, that will be from 3:30pm to 5:00pm today.

The release of our book and the DVD is making news all over the Midwest, and especially the small town of Hannibal, Missouri. For more information about our latest book and our very first DVD, we turn it over to the news report shown below, written by reporter Trevor McDonald and appearing in this morning’s print edition of the Hannibal Courier Post.

We hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving… and a little tease for you… we will have some more exciting news to share with you in both our upcoming December 2022 and January 2023 newsletters. Stay turned!

Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

HANNIBAL — The famous Mark Twain Zephyr first appeared on Oct. 25, 1935, in Hannibal for its dedication, and its historic journey to the present day has been chronicled in a new book and companion DVD to be released Saturday.

Robert Tabern worked for two-and-a-half years with the business that acquired the train in 2020 to begin restoration efforts. That work was put on pause in December 2021. Tabern is no longer affiliated with the railroad — his wife, Kandace, and the non-for-profit Midwest Rail Rangers is responsible for the book and DVD, which features a wide range of photos and interviews conducted during off-time and following her husband’s departure.

“Mark Twain Zephyr: History Restoration & Rebirth – Volume Three” includes the first DVD of the book series, filled with interviews from people with memories and stories directly related to the beloved train. Robert and Kandace Tabern traveled across the country to gather historical clues and conduct interviews related to the train.

“She put together all the photos and everything that she took when she was along with me on a lot of these trips. So, the third book is her collection of photos from the time that the train was in St. Louis all the way up until July, when I left the railroad,” Robert Tabern said, noting the images are all “through her eyes” or from the perspective of contributors.

The historic four-car Mark Twain Zephyr was first built in 1935 by the Budd Company for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy (CB&Q) Railroad. The train regularly transported passengers along the Mississippi River in Missouri, Illinois and Iowa until it was put of service in 1958. A total of nine private owners each had a plan for the train before the move from St. Louis to Wisconsin in 2020. Tabern expressed his hope that the restoration would move forward again, and the train would once again carry passengers as it did decades ago.

The DVD contains many fascinating accounts, including recollections from the late Mary Mucci, who was 95 when the Taberns interviewed her in Albuquerque, N.M. Edward Budd Sr. was her grandfather, and he was CEO of the Philadelphia, Pa. plant where the train was constructed.

As a young girl, Mucci remembered touring the facility and seeing the Zephyrs being built. She shared stories about how safety was not up to modern standards, and injuries were common. One time, an employee was hurt and required a blood transfusion. Budd volunteered and came down on the floor to assist.

Robert and Kandace Tabern also spoke with the great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren of CB&Q Railroad President Ralph Budd (no relation to Edward Budd Sr.). He was part of the dedication ceremony in 1935 when the Mark Twain Zephyr arrived in Hannibal. His descendants shared many stories, too.

Albert Dean was the architect for the Zephyrs, and his brother, Walter, designed the articulated wheel system. The Tabern couple got the chance to speak with Dean’s daughter about various details surrounding the origins of the iconic trains.

More than 50 interviews highlight the 73-minute DVD. Hannibal native Deborah White and her brother, George Roberson, of Hannibal, created original songs to accompany a slideshow at the video’s conclusion. Famous country musician Jake Clayton performs the songs. In return for her contribution, White asked for a $5 donation to be provided to the Hannibal History Museum for each DVD sold.

Tabern said there is a chance in the future of visiting Hannibal again, with a possible presentation of the DVD for local residents. The book and DVD will be unveiled on Saturday during Trainfest in Milwaukee, Wisc. The event is the largest operating model train show in the nation. The celebration attracts about 10,000 participants. The first official screening of the DVD will be presented to those who have paid admission.

Tabern said he and his wife chronicled the stories of nine private owners since the first private owner from 1960, talking with his daughter, nephew and son. They also spoke with descendants of the second, third and fourth owners. The fifth, sixth and seventh private owners are still alive, sharing their plans for restoring the train.

“It was pretty fun to do. We did a lot of it on our off time, traveling around. It was like playing detective, trying to put these pieces together. We knew the people of Hannibal appreciated the history of the train, obviously,” he said, noting the mural commissioned by White and created by Ray Harvey portraying the train at Broadway and Third St.

Tabern said it was a worthy challenge to bring historical details to light that were previously unknown.

“It’s absolutely been exciting, because there’s been a lot written about the Zephyrs, but it seems like the Mark Twain Zephyr was the ‘red-haired stepchild’. There’s books about the Zephyrs, but then when you flip through it, maybe the Mark Twain Zephyr has a page or two — maybe there’s a picture of it when it was in Hannibal,” Tabern said, noting many people were unaware of the train’s vibrant history.

More information and the opportunity to purchase the book and DVD are available by visiting


Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #44 – 5/09/22 – Rail Rangers Share History at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad

Monday, May 9, 2022

For the first time in 26 months… the Wisconsin Great Northern, a tourist railroad in Northwest Wisconsin that partners with the Midwest Rail Rangers, is resuming passenger train operations later this week.

Paid ticket holders for the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad’s Wine & Cheese Train will have the opportunity to view an exclusive new nine-minute movie that was produced in cooperation with the Midwest Rail Rangers. It covers the history of the 1956 double-decker lounge car that was used on the Santa Fe’s El Capitan train and on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight as a Pacific Parlour Car… but now hosts wine and cheese tastings at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad. The movie will be shown before trips depart in the lower-level movie theater section of the car that once housed the historic Santa Fe Kachina Coffee Shop.

The Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad is the only place in the country offering regular weekly trips on any of the six former Amtrak Pacific Parlour Cars. Two other cars are located in Texas and two others are in Michigan; however, they are currently only used by those railroads around the Christmas holidays. A fifth car has remained parked in a train yard outside of St. Louis for nearly 20 years and is not in operable condition.

Ticket holders for the Wine & Cheese Train at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad will also have the opportunity to flip through a historical scrapbook aboard the car (pictured above) that was assembled by the Midwest Rail Rangers. It is truly one-of-a-kind and features many original papers and photographs from the 66-year history of the car.

Select trips later in 2022 may also feature a Midwest Rail Rangers Interpretive Guide to further enhance passengers’ trips. You may recall that our Guides rode along on several trips aboard the car and held an “open house event” in Fall 2019, prior to the COVID-19 passenger train shutdown.

Those who are interested in the history of the car will also have the opportunity to purchase a copy of the Midwest Rail Rangers’ Sky Parlour book, which was published in Fall 2019. The railroad will be selling copies of the book for $20 onboard both the train and in the depot gift shop (located at N6639 Dilly Lake Road in Trego, Wisconsin).

Speaking of books, the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad’s gift shop also reopens tomorrow and will once again be the exclusive physical retail location of the Midwest Rail Rangers’ popular Outside the Rails railroad route guidebooks. Stop by during their regular business hours and purchase a book to learn more about a particular train route in the Midwest. It will enhance your trip so much more to know about everything out your window. We will also be selling our Junior Rail Rangers books in the gift shop.

There is a lot of excitement going on at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad!

To participate, click below to purchase your tickets from the WGNRR… seats are only $50 per person and include a two-hour train ride, plus four different kinds of Wisconsin wine… plus some great cheese and more. Trips will take place Sundays at 11:00AM and 2:00PM between May 15th and October 30th.

We are proud to once again have the opportunity to share the history with the passengers at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad. Be sure to check out their other trains, too, including the popular Bed & Breakfast Train, Dinner Train, Family Pizza Train, Santa Trains, and restoration of the Mark Twain Zephyr.

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #39 – 12/16/21 – Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from the Midwest Rail Rangers

Thursday, December 16, 2021

It’s hard to believe… but Christmas is now just nine days away… and we will be rolling into 2022 in just over two weeks from now. With that… we dedicate this portion of our e-Newsletter to a quick “look back” at the year that was — 2021.

First, we want to thank you for your continued support of the Midwest Rail Rangers through the early part of COVID-19 pandemic. In the end, we were off trains for a period of nearly 16 months. This time last year you may recall we weren’t sure if we would even be back on at all in 2021. There were days we thought about throwing in the towel on our onboard Interpretive Programs… however we put in too much effort… and received too much encouragement and positive feedback from you, our passengers, to actually do something like that.

2021 will be remember by the Midwest Rail Rangers as the year we returned to doing our regularly scheduled programs on the South Shore; this happened on July 1, 2021. We have done multiple runs over the past six months between Chicago and Michigan City and South Bend. We are happy to report a lot more passengers riding with us thanks to the Indiana Dunes State Park promoting our programs on their website and through a poster at the Dune Park South Shore Line station. Starting this summer our onboard talks on the South Shore Line are an official interpretive program of the Indiana Dunes State Park. This is a win-win partnership for both the Rail Rangers and the State Park, as our guides receive extra training from the Indiana Dunes professional staff… while the state parks gets to count our volunteer hours in their totals. We look forward to working even closer with the Indiana Dunes SP in the year ahead… including attending additional training sessions and getting advice on enhancing our programs aboard the South Shore even more.

We also returned to doing private railcar programs in July 2021… which is what started up the Midwest Rail Rangers in the first place, circa July 2015. We performed multiple trips during the last week of July between St. Louis and Kansas City. Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer private cars operating in the Midwest, but we will seek out and provide programs aboard when possible.

Our outreach events also continued in 2021. Three of our Interpretive Guides helped to work an “open house” event at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad for the Mark Twain Zephyr over Memorial Day weekend. Between 600 and 700 people showed up and toured the partially restored trainset. We look forward to having our Guides back up at the WGNRR in 2022, as it appears passenger operations is likely to resume (more on this in future e-Newsletters!).  We also had two Guides attend a train show in Green Bay this year for the first time. Unfortunately, Milwaukee’s Trainfest was cancelled for the second year in a row… but seems to possibly be returning next year. We are already signed up to attend train shows in Madison (February) and Green Bay (April) in 2022… so there will be plenty of time to catch us at various outreach events.

We also resumed our onboard educational programs with the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago, who reserves space or charters various Amtrak equipment for short trips. In September, one of our Guides headed to Indiana and Michigan with the group. The following month, another one of our  Guides took an excursion to Springfield, Illinois. As many as five excursions are in the possible works for 2022 with the 20th Century Railroad Club. We will also have more details about this in future E-newsletters as their plans progress.

Our “Rail Rangers on the Road” virtual programs have also continued to grow this year. Through the entire year of 2021 we provided two virtual programs per month for people to enjoy. Starting in March 2022, we will be cutting our virtual programs back to one per month… in order for our Board and the hosts to focus more on our in-person programming. “Rail Rangers on the Road” programming will air the first Sunday night of every month at 7:00pm Central Time. You can also watch the programs “on demand” after they debut.

You can watch our 2021 Christmas Special on Sunday night (December 19th) at 7:00pm Central Time. We will take you to Owosso, Michigan for a ride on their Pere Marquette Parlour Cars (former Amtrak Pacific Parlour Cars) which will be pulled by the 1225 steam engine. This is part of their “North Pole Express” train.

Finally —- Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year to you, your family, and friends. We look forward to our adventures together in 2022.

(P.S. — Our offices will be closed between December 19, 2021 and January 4, 2022 in order to allow our Interpretive Guides to spend time with their families. There will be no programs offered during this period, e-mails and phone calls received will be returned in the New Year, as well as any book orders received.)

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #38 – 11/21/2021: Midwest Rail Rangers Announce Winter/Spring 2021-22 South Shore Schedule

Sunday, November 21, 2021

The Midwest Rail Rangers Board and Interpretive Guides would like to wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!  We are VERY thankful for all of you who attend our programs, buy our railroad route guide books, and make donations to keep us rolling. We are also thankful to our wonderful partners such as the 20th Century Railroad Club, Indiana Dunes State Park, NICTD/South Shore Line, Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad, Zephyr Route Tours, Paxrail, Friends of the 261, and our many other private rail groups that we have and will continue to work with.

This year we are EXTRA thankful to have been able to resume our onboard educational programs after quite a long hiatus during the start of COVID-19.  Last year at this time, we didn’t know if or when we would be able to see you again. However, we got rolling mid-year… returning to an outreach event in Green Bay over the summer… resuming several South Shore Line trips per month starting in July… having a series of private car trips between St. Louis and Kansas City – also in July… and going on two trips with the 20th Century Railroad Club in September and October.

2022 plans for the Midwest Rail Rangers are already in the works… and we look forward to a lot of exciting adventures together.

Over the upcoming winter… our popular onboard educational programs on the South Shore Line will be our focus.

Join us on any of these dates:

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Thursday trips will operate roundtrip on the South Shore  Line between Chicago and Michigan City, Indiana.  Saturday trips will operate on the South Shore Line between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana. More details below and on our website.  Hope to see you enjoying the Indiana Dunes by train this winter!

AND… We look forward to seeing everyone on Saturday, December 4th at the Friends of the 261 North Pole Express Train in St. Paul, Minnesota! We will have Midwest Rail Rangers Guides on their 10:00AM, 11:30AM, and 1:00PM departures serving as car hosts. We did receive some calls about this… and want to report that all tickets for this day are SOLD OUT already.  But, we look forward to seeing all of those who were lucky enough to get tickets.

ALSO… Are you or someone you know planning an Amtrak trip in 2022? Please consider purchasing one of our railroad route guidebooks as a Christmas gift! Information is below. This way you can “take us with you”… knowing about everything outside your window. We have traditional book formats for most Amtrak long distance routes… as well as e-books.  Some sections even have MP3 podcasts available. Details below. Not only will you have a fun and unique gift… but your purchase helps to support the Midwest Rail Rangers.

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #28 – 2020 Midwest Rail Rangers Year in Review

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Hello everyone… we hope you had a Merry Christmas… and will have a fun and safe New Years’ Eve tomorrow!   We don’t need to tell you — but 2020 was like a year none of us have ever experienced before. Regardless, we decided to continue our annual tradition here at the Midwest Rail Rangers with sending out our “Year in Review” e-Newsletter to look back on some of the fun times we had in past year… and point out some of the exciting things we have to look forward in the New Year… plus give you a long-term preview of where things are headed with our 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

January 2020 saw the official opening of our new Midwest Rail Rangers headquarters in Barron, Wisconsin. Where is that you ask? Well, we are about 45 minutes north of Eau Claire, or near where U.S. Highways 8 and 53 meet. In order to attract more potential partners than just in the Chicago and Milwaukee areas, our Headquarters and Main Office decided to make the move to the Northwoods of Wisconsin. We now have part of our Board of Directors up here… while most of our Board and Interpretive Guides remain stationed down in Northeast Illinois and Southeast Wisconsin. We house all of our National Park Passport Stamps used on our various excursions here in Barron, WI.. so if you are ever in the area, let us know… make an appointment and we will be happy to meet you** (** = once the pandemic is over with!).


The year started off pretty much like any normal year… with our Interpretive Guides focusing on our South Shore Line programs in January and February 2020. While most other activities we present are seasonal…  our programs on the South Shore LIne always operate year-round. Some people ask why we run our programs year-round on the SSL… and the answer is pretty simple — there is very distinct beauty in all FOUR seasons when taking the train through the Indiana Dunes State and National Parks. You will never see the same thing in the same way when you ride with the Midwest Rail Rangers in various seasons. We got about five or six on-board educational programs in this year on the South Shore Line before we and NICTD decided to suspend programming in Mid-March 2020. While we had hoped to return in the summer or fall… the realty of the continuing spikes in COVID-19 cases made that impossible. Having people interact with the Interpretive Guide and sit close together in one car to hear program does not conform well to the guidance of social distancing and not gathering in large groups.

In order to encourage people to still ride (while maintaining a safe distance from others outside their immediate household) and hear our narration, the Midwest Rail Rangers and NICTD are offering a special program on weekends — where all westbound rides are free. And instead of having an interpretive guide on your train, you can download a free westbound South Shore Line MP3 podcast from the Rail Rangers to learn about what you are seeing out the window. This deal continues at least through February 28, 2021. The free podcast is available for download at the Midwest Rail Rangers Store… head to our main website ( and click on “Rail Rangers Store” and follow the prompts to download your free MP3 South Shore Line Podcast.

Currently, In-person on-board educational programs are suspended on the South Shore Line through May 30, 2021. We look forward to returning later this year.

We do have some exciting news to share though… we have extended our partnership with the South Shore Line (NICTD) to provide our programs at least through March 2023. So, we can’t wait to be back and be riding with you.


Despite most passenger operations being shut down since Mid-March, 2020 has been a very exciting year for our partners at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad. This family-run railroad near Trego, Wisconsin acquired the historic Mark Twain Zephyr over the summer and has been making amazing progress on restoring the train set.  If you have not checked out the website yet, spend some time at

While COVID-19 prevented us from hosting any of our planned “Open House” events on the Wisconsin Great Northern’s Sky Parlour Car in 2020, several of our Midwest Rail Rangers docents participated in giving guided tours of the Mark Twain Zephyr train set on the weekend of October 24 and October 25, 2020 during a special “Open House” to celebrate the train set’s 85th Anniversary. We had over 100 people show up — some from as far away as Kansas and Ohio — and watch our history presentations and walk through four of the five cars that were under renovation.

There is MUCH to look forward to in 2021 at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad, too! The Midwest Rail Rangers look forward to assisting WGNRR Staff in whatever ways needed with more “Open House” events on the Mark Twain Zephyr and on the Sky Parlour Car next year.  Stay tuned to our website and e-Newsletters with more details on these events as the months go forward and the WGNRR is slated to resume normal passenger service again on May 1, 2021.

The Midwest Rail Rangers are also collecting CB&Q and Zephyr memorabilia and donations that will be given to the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad for inclusion in their “Becky Thatcher” Museum Car. This will likely the focal point of future “Open House” Events and Interpretive Guide talks with passengers.


Unfortunately, COVID-19 caused serious problems for owners of private cars who were planning excursions in 2020. Every private car trip this year that was planning to have Midwest Rail Rangers Interpretive Guides aboard was cancelled. We hope for a better 2021 and to offer you some fun private car experiences again. At this point, we do not have any definite trip dates for 2021, however we encourage you to watch our website and future E-Newsletters. Several of our private rail partners have mentioned that they will probably not run any trips in the first half of 2021, but are hoping to offer something during the second half of 2021.  Stay tuned and hope for the brightest!


Unfortunately, COVID-19 also caused serious problems for the Amtrak charters organized by the 20th Century Railroad Club in 2020. You may recall that we planned to have Interpretive Guides on about five different trips the club was offering. Every trip this year that was planning to have Midwest Rail Rangers Interpretive Guides aboard was cancelled. We hope for a better 2021 and to offer you some fun 20th Century narrated experiences again. At this point, we do not have any definite trip dates for 2021, however we encourage you to watch our website and future E-Newsletters. The Board of Directors of the 20th Century Railroad Club is expected to meet in January 2021 to discuss what offerings might be possible. Know that we look forward to being part of their trips once they get rolling again.  Stay tuned and hope for the brightest!


We were able to get one major outreach event under our belt in 2020 before COVID-19 set in. You may have caught us at MadCity Rail on the weekend of February 15th and February 16th at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin.  Volunteers staffed our booth and sold our popular railroad route guides as a fundraiser for the Midwest Rail Rangers.  Unfortunately, our other major outreach event of the year — Trainfest 2020 — was cancelled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as the venue was being used as a COVID-19 Field Hospital.  Looking forward, we know MadCity Rail 2021 is CANCELLED already. We hope to resume our outreach events with Trainfest in November 2021… and return to Madison, Wisconsin in February 2022.

Our outreach events are VERY important to the future of the Midwest Rail Rangers, as these let us interact with the public and help spread our name. They are also very important because they serve as a fundraise for our group. When you purchase a railroad route guide at Trainfest or MadCity Rail, it helps to pay for thing such as office supplies, our mandatory insurance needed to do our programs, speaker upkeep, and much more. Unlike a lot of railroad organizations, we do not offer “memberships”… we do not charge people yearly dues to hear our programs… in fact, our narration is always FREE to passengers when they purchase a ticket for an excursions. However, we do have a lot of costs and those are covered by you purchasing our railroad route guide books.

Please take a moment right now, and consider either making a donation to the Midwest Rail Rangers if you are able to do so.  Or, go over and check out our railroad route guides. You can make a generous donation and/or buy a route guide on our main website,  Donations received by 11:59PM CST tomorrow night (Dec 31) will count to your 2020 taxes… as we are a 501(c)(3) and everything you donate is tax deductible.

We are in good shape compared to a lot of other railroad museums and organizations as we do not own any physical property besides our headquarters office and speaker systems… but 2020 was still not a good year… so your donation or route book purchase would mean a lot to us… and would make things that much more stable going into 2021.


Finally, virtual programs. This is something we started up brand new in June 2020 when it became apparent we would not be able to be in groups doing our narration for quite some time. We plan to continue offering two new programs per month for you to watch for the foreseeable future. They are offered on select Sunday evenings at 7:00PM CT… and then can be watched there-after on demand. Various topics are presented — ranging from actual train rides, visits to historic train locations, model railroading, and more.  Your donations definitely also help cover our expenses in traveling across the Midwest producing these programs. This is not a cheap endeavor!  We will only be able to continue offering these through your generous support.  Once we resume our on-board interpretive programs later in 2021, we will continue to offer virtual programs, but may cut back to one program per month or so… so we do not lose focus on our main mission.


Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

Robert Tabern, President

Bob Neil, Vice President

Dave Poole, Treasurer

Kathy Bruecker, Secretary

Kandace Tabern, Educational Officer

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #27 – Mark Twain Zephyr Open House & More – October 15, 2020

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Dear Friends and Supporters,

The Midwest Rail Rangers is excited to announce that — for the first time since March 2020 — one of our partners will be hosting an in-person event. The Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad in Trego, Wisconsin will be hosting an “Open House Event” for the Mark Twain Zephyr, which the railroad acquired earlier this year. The Mark Twain Zephyr was one of the most famous trains in the Midwest back in the 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s… operating along the scenic Mississippi River through part of Iowa and Missouri. Even though the last car arrived up at the WGNRR just before Labor Day, crews have made remarkable progress!  In fact, the train is probably already in its best shape in more than 50 years, after passing through the hands of several owners who neither had the time nor finances to complete its refurbishment. As we prepare this E-newsletter this morning, some of the final windows are being put in the Mark Twain Zephyr.

The Midwest Rail Rangers is proud to be a supporter of the Wisconsin Great Northern’s efforts. You may recall, that we became partners with the WGNRR in 2019, presenting a couple of “Open House” events on their Sky Parlour Car (former Santa Fe Hi-Level Lounge and Amtrak Pacific Parlour Car). These were a success, drawing crowds of between 200 and 300 people to see our displays on Amtrak and Santa Fe History.

Next year, we look forward to hosting additional history events on select weekends up at the Wisconsin Great Northern — both aboard the Sky Parlour — and on the Becky Thatcher Museum Car on the Mark Twain Zephyr.

Mark your calendars for Saturday, October 24, 2020 or Sunday, October 25, 2020 and stop by the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad between 10AM and 4PM CDT. Staff from the railroad will be on-hand both days to provide self-guided tours of the exterior and guided tours of some of the interiors of the cars that are being renovated. You will be amazed at the quick progress being made. Special photo opportunities will also be available with the original medallion from the Mark Twain Zephyr, which has not been on public display since 1962!  Midwest Rail Rangers President Robert Tabern and Vice President Robert Neil will be greeting passengers both days. Midwest Rail Rangers Educational Officer Kandace Tabern will also be helping to lead tours on Sunday.  The WGNRR gift shop will also be selling route guidebooks from the Midwest Rail Rangers on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

In other news… we have begun working with the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District to secure a two year extension in our partnership agreements, so that we can continue brining you onboard educational programs on the South Shore Line between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana approximately two weekends per month, year-round. The Midwest Rail Rangers began doing our on-board educational programs on the South Shore Line back in August 2017. We have reached out to thousands of passengers over the past three years who have enjoyed the narration provided in one of the eight cars of the train on Saturdays or Sundays. While our programs currently remain suspended due to the Corona Virus, we look forward to having an agreement in place through Spring 2023, which means we will be ready to return to the rails when it is safe to give talks to medium-to-large sized groups again. We will keep you updated on the progress going on behind-the-scenes here.

Finally… we appreciate everyone who have enjoyed our “virtual programs” over the past couple of months. We did our first “virtual program” in June 2020… and have produced two of these every month since. In fact, our next virtual program, on Sunday, October 25, 2020, will mark our 10th virtual program!  The focus of the Midwest Rail Rangers will continue to be our in-person educational programs aboard trains… however while that remains not possible right now… we will continue to “virtual programs” so that we can remain connected… and so that you can enjoy fun rail destinations and topics from across the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin).  The plan at this point is to continue to produce two “virtual programs” every month through the course of 2021, as we transition back to in-person programming. Beyond that, in 2022, we will probably do one “virtual program” every couple of months, so we can re-focus on our in-person programming. Virtual programs take place at 7:00PM CT on select Sunday evenings. A complete schedule of programming through November 2021 and topics is posted on our website. Our next program on October 25th will be broadcast from Rochelle, Illinois at the famous railroad diamonds.  Our November 2020 “virtual programs” will focus on celebrating the Midwest Rail Rangers’ 5th Anniversary. Our November 8, 2020 program will be broadcast LIVE from our headquarters in Barron, Wisconsin… as we explain how the Midwest Rail Rangers was founded and what some of our favorite memories have been. Our November 22, 2020 program will be broadcast from La Plata, Missouri, which was our headquarters for our first few years. We will offer a special holiday program in late December about Christmas trains.


Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

Robert Tabern, President

Bob Neil, Vice President

Dave Poole, Treasurer

Kathy Bruecker, Secretary

Kandace Tabern, Educational Officer

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #26 — 2020 Season Update / Mark Twain Zephyr / Ocean View Dome — August 19, 2020


We hope everyone is enjoying the summer season (as much as possible right now)… and are staying healthy and well during these difficult times. We greet you this morning with some important updates about the Midwest Rail Rangers — mainly where we are headed, both in the short-term and the long-term.

 First, we wanted to announce that the MRR Board of Directors has decided to suspend all of our onboard educational programs on the South Shore Line between Chicago and South Bend through at least the end of the year (December 31, 2020). We were really hoping that conditions would improve by the fall, but that is clearly not the case… and we do not want to encourage extra crowds to develop on the train during the pandemic to hear our in-person programs. We will re-evaluate conditions in early December and make a decision then about our what our early 2021 programming may look like. As a reminder, you can still ride the South Shore Line on your own (they’re back to a normal schedule) and learn about the route. The Midwest Rail Rangers had made our podcasts for the South Shore Line completely FREE during the time our docents are off the train. You can also purchase one of our hard copy route guidebooks… or one of our PDF e-Books. All of the above are available at the Midwest Rail Rangers On-Line Store. Head to our website ( and click on the “Rail Rangers Store” link.

The 20th Century Railroad Club’s Board has informed the Midwest Rail Rangers that all of their remaining trips for 2020 will also be cancelled. This includes the “Great Lakes and Trains Featuring the Grand Hotel” departure on October 3, 2020… and the “St. Louis, MO Adventure” departure on November 13, 2020… which we were planning to have some of our Interpretive Guides aboard for. We look forward to partnering with the 20th Century Railroad Club once again in 2021, for some exciting trips.

Now that we have all of the cancellation news out of the way… we are happy to report that the Midwest Rail Rangers isn’t going anywhere during the months ahead. While our in-person programs have come to a halt, we are happy to report that we are committed to producing TWO brand new episodes per month of our “virtual programs”. These take you to exciting rail destinations in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. In fact, we now have enough topics and locations lined up to continue releasing TWO brand new episodes every month through at least August 2021. Hopefully well before then, we can begin a return to our in-person talks and programming and can cease the virtual visits. We do appreciate your support and the positive comments we have gotten about these shows… we sure hope you are enjoying them!  Some of the upcoming topics include:  Part 2 of 2 at the Wisconsin Great Northern Dinner Train Cars (August 23rd), Tour of the CB&Q Depot in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa (September 13th), and Ride on the Laona, Wisconsin Steam Train (September 27th). A complete listing of “virtual program” topics and dates can be found on our website. Be sure to mark your calendars and join us on Sunday evenings this fall and winter — as we do the traveling for you.

We have some exciting news to share involving two of our rail partners, too!

In case you haven’t heard, the Midwest Rail Rangers will be extending our partnership with the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad in Trego, Wisconsin. The WGNRR recently announced that it has purchased the historic Mark Twain Zephyr train set. Built in 1935 for the CB&Q, the train ran on a number of routes across the Midwest until 1958… but was primarily used on the Burlington, Iowa to St. Louis, Missouri scenic line along the Mississippi River. Back on August 1st, the engine of #9903 arrived at the WGNRR in Northwest Wisconsin; the other four cars will be following in the weeks ahead. The Midwest Rail Rangers will be helping the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad to raise funds for the “museum car”, which will be built aboard the “Becky Thatcher” (former baggage car). The Midwest Rail Rangers had used your donations to acquire a number of items already that will go on display — including an old lantern, an old watering can, a set of CB&Q violet pattern dishes, and much more. Monetary donations can be made by going to Memorabilia relating to the CB&Q and Zephyrs is also welcome. E-mail to discuss your tax-deductible contributions. The WGNRR is hoping to have the trainset up and running by Late 2021. When that happens, the Midwest Rail Rangers looks forward to having our docents aboard on select runs to give tours of the “museum car” and to show movies in the on-board “theater car”. The museum will be really world class with your financial support and donations.

One of our other partners, PaxRail, announced yesterday that it has acquired Amtrak’s last remaining dome car “Ocean View”. Built for the Great Northern’s Empire Builder, “Ocean View” has been used on special excursions — mainly in the Northeast, Midwest, and Southern California — in recent years… as well as being used as a private business car for Amtrak executives. The car was deemed “too costly” to continue to maintain, and Amtrak put it up for sale in November 2019. In March 2020, Jim Evenson, with PaxRail, contacted us and gave us the news his company was the winning bidder. We agreed to keep things quiet until a press release was put out… but behind the scenes we were helping Jim develop the history section of PaxRail’s website about “Ocean View”. Of course, the Midwest Rail Rangers operates the history page about the car, which you can view at The Midwest Rail Rangers had partnered with PaxRail on numerous excursion in the past…and look forward to the invite to have our Interpretive Guides aboard “Ocean View” on select Midwest excursions the car will make, beginning in 2021.

In the end… yes, things look pretty bleak right now. It is not fun putting out e-Newsletters to announce more cancellations… when pretty much the whole year has been full of that… both with the Midwest Rail Rangers… and a lot of other things going on in our lives. However, things like being able to design a “museum car” at the Wisconsin Great Northern’s Mark Twain Zephyr… and having a beautiful full-length dome car to do our programs on… gives us hope. And it should give you hope, too.  We are fighting for survival right now, like many non-profit organizations, but we have made the commitment not to drop off the map during the pandemic. While our “virtual programs” are not as much fun as being with all of you,at least it does let us connect and be together (sort of) every couple of weeks.  And for that opportunity, we are very grateful.


          Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

          Robert Tabern, President

          Bob Neil, Vice President

          Dave Poole, Treasurer

          Kathy Bruecker, Secretary

          Kandace Tabern, Educational Officer

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #25 — Celebrating Our 5th Anniversary — July 20, 2020

July 20, 2020

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Good Evening! On behalf of the Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors… we wanted to take a moment out of your busy day… and say THANK YOU for your continued support, as today marks the 5th Anniversary of the Rail Rangers. It was on back on Monday, July 20, 2015 that a group of hard-working individuals decided to get together and form a non-profit organization that would enhance passengers’ experiences on private rail excursions across the Upper Midwest by providing expert narration and route guidebooks.

We had some really exciting things planned for 2020 to celebrate our 5th Anniversary, but given everything that has happened so far this year — those will be side-lined for a bit until we can get together and in groups and once again safely ride trains together.

If you have followed our organization over time… you know that the Rail Rangers has had the unique ability to adapt to pretty much anything that has been thrown our way.  Most of the founding members of the Rail Rangers were once volunteers with the Amtrak/National Park Service Trails & Rails program on the Southwest Chief. In order to have more of a say over how things operated… we broke away… and formed our own organization in July 2015 that had the mission of providing the same quality narration as Trails & Rails, except on private rail car excursions. This was a challenge for our volunteers at first… because instead of learning just a single train route (Chicago to Missouri)… we had to become knowledge about ALL of various train routes out of Windy City. All of our Guides not only met, but exceeded expectations on becoming familiar with the various routes… and more and more private car owners began to request our services in 2016 and 2017 for their trips. In April 2018, Amtrak issues a new set of policies that resulted in many private car owners either cutting back on excursions… or in some cases… selling off their cars totally. The Rail Rangers Board knew that our days would be numbered if we continued to exclusively focus on the dwindling number of private rail excursions taking place in the Midwest. That is why in 2018 and 2019… we worked hard to expand our portfolio. In addition to still providing narration on private rail excursions… we also began programs on the South Shore Line (Chicago – South Bend) two weekends per month, doing open house events on the Sky Parlour at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad, partnering with the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago for most of their Amtrak charters, and attending more outreach events and programs like Trainfest in Milwaukee and Mad City Rail in Madison, Wisconsin. We also wrote books… and produced e-books and even MP3 Podcasts for each of the routes out of Chicago. This meant we were no longer putting “all of our eggs into just one basket” (private cars)… and made us a true multi-facilitated organization (everything else we do now!). In December 2018, we conquered another hurdle… when we became our own independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization… to ensure that all donations received would actually go toward the Midwest Rail Rangers.

Well, another hurdle… March 2020. Probably the biggest one that any one of us will ever experience in our lifetimes. At first we though we might be off the trains for a couple of weeks or even a month or two… but now we know… it’s going to be a bit longer that things are paused. After “waiting it out” for 2 or 3 months, we held a Virtual Board Meeting in May 2020 and realized we had a decision to make. We could either not do anything until it was safe to be back at our various venues —- or we could go out and safely produce a series of virtual educational programs to keep everyone entertained and engaged. Not wanting to put all our marketing and promotional efforts to waste… we knew what we had to do. And, after our “virtual test program” back in late June at the Wisconsin Great Northern’s Sky Parlour… we received wonderful feedback from you… that you have enjoyed what we are doing. So, I’m happy to announce that the Midwest Rail Rangers will be producing 2 new virtual programs every month through April 2021. Over the course of 22 episodes we will visit every state in the Midwest Rail Rangers region —- bringing you railroad adventures from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Hopefully we can return to some of our venues before May 2021… but if not… you atleast have some of our new virtual programs to look forward to.  (We also want to thank the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago for their support and co-sponsor of some of these virtual programs, too).

So, 5th Happy Anniversary… this is not how we really wanted to celebrate with you today, but it is what it is… thank you so much for your on-going support… especially those who have purchased a route guide book, e-book, or podcast during these times… to show you support — so we can keep paying our insurance and other bills that keep coming in even though we are not on the train. Your donations will also help support our virtual programs, too.  And, as we have said many times now —- “Until we can be together, again…”

PS — A complete list of our upcoming virtual programs is available on our website… Our next episode will be Sunday, July 26, 2020 @ 7PM CT as we get a tour of the Aristocrat Lounge Car at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad.  We will be LIVE to answer your questions, too.   For those of you on our E-newsletter list, a reminder will be sent out about 24 hours before each new program takes place.  Add your friends and family members to our E-newsletter list so they can stay in the loop, too!


          Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

          Robert Tabern, President

          Bob Neil, Vice President

          Dave Poole, Treasurer

          Kathy Bruecker, Secretary

          Kandace Tabern, Educational Officer

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #24 — Rail Rangers 2020 Season Goes Virtual — June 10, 2020




June 10, 2020

Dear Friends and Supporters,

We greet you with some bad — and yes, also some good news, this early afternoon.

As you know, for the past three months or so, the Midwest Rail Rangers have put our popular onboard educational programs on a complete hiatus due to the outbreak of COVID-19. During March, April, and May 2020, our Board of Directors was holding out hope there would be a practical, and more importantly… safe way… to resume by summer what we have done and shared with you aboard trains the past five years.

As we are now just 10 days away from the official start of Summer 2020… it has become very apparent that we will unfortunately not be able to resume our in-person on-board educational programs at this time… or even in the immediate future.

Besides the obvious concerns for your health and the health of our Interpretive Guides being in close quarters together aboard a train car, part of our decision comes from the fact the Midwest Rail Rangers always works with partner organizations to present our programs, as we do not own rail cars or equipment. For example, the 20th Century Railroad Club has independently decided to cancel all of its tours through at least October 1, 2020 — which means the onboard educational programs we were planning to offer on their Northern Wisconsin & Minnesota Rail Tour in September can now not take place. Likewise, all private rail excursions featuring heritage equipment that we were planning to be apart of for 2020 have been cancelled by their car owners/organizers… leaving us currently with no private car trips to have our programs aboard. Simple as that.

This is no doubt a difficult year — but being safe has to be the #1 priority — something always echoed in the railroad industry well before the outbreak of COVID-19.

We also hold a very high standard for our programs at the Midwest Rail Rangers. Our Board of Directors are united in the philosophy that if we can’t provide passengers with quality on-board educational programs — we are better off taking a break right now. Think about how uncomfortable and impractical it would be to provide 6 or 7 hours worth of ongoing narration about a given train route while wearing a mask, which is required by some railroads and cities. Also, it would be very difficult for you to understand what is being said trying to talk through a mask over a PA system. Trust us… we want to return to whatever the “new normal” will be of on-board educational programs, but now is not quite that time. We do hope that time will come as soon as safely possible.
As a result and after much though and consultation with our partners, we are suspending our on-board educational programs on the South Shore Line (Chicago to South Bend) through at least September 1, 2020. Our on-board educational “open house” programs aboard the Sky Parlour Car at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad in Trego, Wisconsin will take a hiatus until further notice. The 20th Century Railroad Club has decided to suspend all trips through at least October 1, 2020… and we are planning to follow their plans accordingly. All private car trips that the Midwest Rail Rangers had planned to be apart of for 2020 have also been cancelled. For now, we will be keeping an appearance at Trainfest in November 2020 on our outreach event calendar as planned… but will also follow the direction of Trainfest’s organizers when it comes changes to that event.

If there are any changes to the above information, we will let you — our E-Newsletter subscribers — know first before the general public.

Now, on to the good news. We promised you there would be some in this E-Newsletter!

If you have followed the Midwest Rail Rangers over the years, you know we have triumphed in difficult and adverse times. Our organization’s history dates back to December 2012 when we were a branch of Trails & Rails that provided onboard educational programs aboard Amtrak’s Southwest Chief between Chicago and Missouri. After operating for two and a half years on that route, but coming into a disagreement over how the program should be managed going forward, we successfully branched off as our own organization called the Rail Rangers… providing fun and informative onboard educational programs first on private rail excursions. When the number of private rail trips were reduced by Amtrak policy changes, we turned to other organizations to partner with. When our regular weekly programs ended on the Hoosier State train in February 2017, we worked hard to quickly establish a new partnership with the South Shore Line (they have been awesome to work with the past 3 years!). Our organization became so popular that we branched out from our original parent group to become our own independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in January 2019. That was also not an easy feat — there are mounds of paperwork and legal work one must do to file to become a non-profit organization. And no — we are not going to let this darn COVID-19 virus get us down either. That we can promise you!

So, until we are able to return to doing regular onboard educational programs with our normal partners… whenever that may be… the Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors has decided to offer brand new “Virtual Programs”. These will be offered on the Facebook page of either the Midwest Rail Rangers or our partners. We are committed to doing at least two of these per month until we return to the rails. Some programs will be LIVE, where you can tune in and ask questions. Other programs will be pre-recorded and posted at a certain time for you to enjoy. Programs will range from about 15 to 30 minutes depending on the topic. The key is to go ahead and “LIKE” the Facebook page of the Midwest Rail Rangers right now (if you haven’t done so already) so that you can participate in our “virtual programs” that will be offered throughout the summer.

We have six awesome “virtual programs” already in the works. Details are below. And, be sure to check out our main website ( as we add more dates and topics, And of course, if you have any suggestions for things you want us to talk about or places we should visit and do a program for you — let us know. Drop our Board of Directors an e-mail at We welcome your creative ideas!

Again, we look forward to returning to the rails soon — but are proud to be able to offer you an alternative during the months ahead versus just shuttering up completely like many businesses and organizations have done.


Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

Robert Tabern, President

Bob Neil, Vice President

Dave Poole, Treasurer

Kathy Bruecker, Secretary

Kandace Tabern, Educational Officer


The COVID-19 Virus has unfortunately caused us to suspend or cancel many of our traditional onboard educational programs during the course of 2020. While we look forward to our return to the rails soon… we will be offering a new brand of “Virtual Educational Programs”. These will be featured on the Facebook page of either the Midwest Rail Rangers or our partner organizations. Some presentations will be LIVE where we can take questions from the viewers… while others will be pre-taped and posted at a given time for you to enjoy.

Note that you will need to create a Facebook page (if you don’t have one already) and then “LIKE” our Facebook page and the pages of our partner organizations in order to participate in the experiences.

Here is a look at what we have planned:

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 24, 2020 — 7:00PM CT

*LIVE PROGRAM* — Tour of the Wisconsin Great Northern Sky Parlour Car

Join Robert and Kandace Tabern with the Midwest Rail Rangers for a tour of the Wisconsin Great Northern Sky Parlour Car LIVE from the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad in Trego, Wis. We will be bringing dozens of pieces of memorabilia onboard to show you from the car’s years as a Hi-Level Lounge on the Santa Fe… and Pacific Parlour Car on Amtrak. We will also have time for Q&A from those who join us live.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This presentation will be presented ONLY on the Facebook page of our partner, the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago. It will not be present on the Midwest Rail Rangers Facebook page like most other events. You must “like” their Facebook page and tune in there to participate in this event. Please tune in a few minutes before the scheduled start time and wait for the post to appear for you to watch.

SUNDAY, JUNE 28, 2020 — 10:00AM CT

Midwest Central Railroad – Mount Pleasant, Iowa

Join Kandace & Robert Tabern with the Midwest Rail Rangers for a tour of the Midwest Central Railroad in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Did you know that there are a group of steam locomotive tucked away at this facility in Mount Pleasant, Iowa? It was also the location that housed the Mark Twain Zephyr train set for 17 years in the 1960’s and 1970’s. You’re guaranteed to learn a thing or two about narrow gauge railroading during this presentation and inside “behind the scenes” look at their steam shop.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a pre-taped program that will be posted at the above time. You must “like” the Midwest Rail Rangers Facebook page in order to watch this program.

SUNDAY, JULY 12, 2020 — 10:00AM CT

Fenelon Elevator – Dubuque, Iowa

Join Kandace & Robert Tabern with the Midwest Rail Rangers for a short tour of the Fenelon Elevator in Dubuque, Iowa. It is a 3-foot narrow gauge funicular railway. Also known as the Fourth Street Elevator, it is claimed to be the shortest and steepest railroad in the world. It was individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a pre-taped program that will be posted at the above time. You must “like” the Midwest Rail Rangers Facebook page in order to watch this program.

SUNDAY, JULY 26, 2020 — 10:00AM CT

Milwaukee Road Depot at Winona, Minnesota

Join Kandace & Robert Tabern with the Midwest Rail Rangers for a short discussion about the Empire Builder and the historic Milwaukee Road Depot in Winona, Minnesota. Did you know that you can still see the Milwaukee Road logo on one side of the old freight house located here? And it’s the first crew change for the westbound Amtrak train today.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a pre-taped program that will be posted at the above time. You must “like” the Midwest Rail Rangers Facebook page in order to watch this program

SUNDAY, AUGUST 9, 2020 — 12:00 NOON CT

*LIVE PROGRAM* — The Favorite Props of the Midwest Rail Rangers

Join Kandace & Robert Tabern live from the Midwest Rail Rangers Headquarters in Barron, Wisconsin for a look at some of the favorite props we have used over the years with passengers. We will dig deep in our file cabinet and see what we come up with. Maybe you have seen some of our props on one of your trips with us? Just how muddy is the Mississippi River? We’ll show you our jug of river water! And how about sand from the Indiana Dunes and our sandhill crane mascot named “Killer”? You’re guaranteed to learn a thing or two during this 20 minute presentation. We will be taking Q&A, too!


SUNDAY, AUGUST 23, 2020 — 10:00AM CT

Rail fanning at Rochelle with the Rail Rangers

Join Kandace & Robert Tabern with the Midwest Rail Rangers to learn more about the Railroad Park in Rochelle, Illinois. Thousands of people flock here every year to watch where the Union Pacific (Chicago-Omaha) and BNSF (Chicago-Twin Cities) lines cross one another. We will take you on a quick tour of what this railroad park has to offer and why it is so popular among railfans from all across the country.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a pre-taped program that will be posted at the above time. You must “like” the Midwest Rail Rangers Facebook page in order to watch this program

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #23 — COVID-19 Statement & Schedule Update 3 — May 4, 2020


An important update from the Midwest Rail Rangers about our upcoming onboard educational programs

May 4, 2020

Dear Friends and Supporters,

The Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors and our Interpretive Guides hope everyone is doing as well as possible in these extremely difficult times. Even though we can’t be together on the train right now sharing fun programs about history and nature with you… we feel that it is important to still stay in touch from time-to-time. We hope you agree. That way when that day comes that we can be together again… we will be ready and have our upcoming dates up on your calendar.

Our Board of Directors held an important virtual meeting over the weekend to address when it might be possible to safely resume our onboard educational programs — and below is what we have come up with. Note these are our current plans, are very tentative, and will be subject to further changes/additional cancellations. Please know making decisions such as these are very difficult. We have to balance the fact that some things are opening up in a few of the states across the Midwest that we serve… while other states (such as Illinois and Wisconsin) still have “stay at home” orders in place even past Memorial Day… limiting non-essential travel. We also take all of our partners’ suggestions and opinions into high consideration — keeping the health of our Guides and those of you who attend our programs as always the #1 priority. And even if all orders are lifted… we still need to figure exactly out how to perform our quality onboard educational programs in whatever the “new normal” will be — including giving talks with face masks on and not being able to pass props around or get up and close with our passengers like we enjoyed.

With that said… the MRRC Board voted to suspend all public events through Friday, June 26, 2020. This includes South Shore Line programs, Wisconsin Great Northern Sky Parlour Programs, 20th Century Railroad Club Programs, programs aboard all private rail excursions and all outreach events.

In addition, please note the following onboard educational programs scheduled beyond Friday, June 26th, 2020 are also cancelled:

** Saturday, June 27th, 2020

20th Century Railroad Club Amtrak Charter to Galesburg, IL and Peoria, IL

This past weekend the 20th Century Railroad Club and the Midwest Rail Rangers were informed that the organizers of Galesburg Railroad Days have decided to cancel their annual event. This will result in this charter being cancelled.

** Saturday, June 27th, 2020

Private Car Trip “Hollywood Beach” to Galesburg, IL and Quincy, IL

This past weekend the Midwest Rail Rangers and Keith White, owner of the Hollywood Beach, were informed that the organizers of Galesburg Railroad Days have decided to cancel their annual event. This will result in this private rail trip being cancelled.

** Sunday, November 1, 2020 & Monday, November 2, 2020

20th Century Railroad Club South Shore Charter to South Bend, IN & Studebaker

This trip has been cancelled due to the re-scheduling of an Amtrak charter to St. Louis, MO the same month.

Our current schedule is updated both on our websit ( and below.

This is no doubt something we… nor anyone else… expected to happen this year. These are unprecedented times and there will no doubt be some additional cancellations.

We have had many people ask us over the past couple of months what they can do to help support the Midwest Rail Rangers and our partners during this time. One of the best things you can do right now is — if you think you are going to feel comfortable traveling this fall — would be to book one or more of the three remaining 20th Century Railroad Club excursions in 2020 that we hope to be on. This includes an excursion to Northwest Wisconsin/Minnesota in September… Springfield, Illinois in October… or St. Louis, Missouri in November. These trips need a minimum number of travelers on them — several month out — to make sure a profit can be had and these trips can run. Trips cancelled due to the virus is one thing… but we would hate to see the three trips that remain on the calendar cancelled too because not enough people have booked. This is a great way you can help support us and the 20th Century Railroad Club… who has been one of our amazing partners over the years taking you on fun and exciting trips.
For those who may not feel comortable traveling, you can always support the Midwest Rail Rangers by going on a virtual train trip — by purchasing one of our route guide books, e-books, or MP3 podcasts. They, and other items, are available, right now at our online store —-

Please continue to monitor our website, e-newsletters, Facebook and Twitter pages for more information and updates, as needed. (Some decisions, especially those made by our partner railroads are out of our Board’s hands — and will be updated as we get them.)

We wish you and your family well. If you have any questions about this, feel free to send an e-mail to us at:


Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

Robert Tabern, President

Bob Neil, Vice President

Dave Poole, Treasurer

Kathy Bruecker, Secretary

Kandace Tabern, Educational Officer