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 midwestrails.com.
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