Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #11: A Busy Summer for the Midwest Rail Rangers

Join us on the South Shore… historic private rail trips to St. Louis, Kansas City, and the Twin Cities… or Amtrak charter trips to Detroit, Milwaukee, and Carbondale!

It has definitely been a busy summer so far for the Midwest Rail Rangers — but the best is yet to come with plenty of trips on our schedule.

Before we get into that… we want to take a quick minute and thank all of you who we met in the past couple of weeks… including at Galesburg Railroad Days the weekend of June 22-23. Plus, we also are welcoming a new private car partner to our roster. We were contacted by Blue Pine Rail… who organized a private rail excursion on the last run of the Hoosier State on Sunday, June 30th. We were asked to narrate between Lafayette, Indiana and Chicago on this previously sold out excursion that involved two historic Pennsylvania Railroad cars. We hope to partner with Blue Pine Rail in the future and make their trips available to those of you on our Roundhouse E-Newsletter List.

Even though the July 4th Holiday weekend has come and gone… we still have a lot in store for you this summer and fall.  Here is a quick update —–

South Shore Line:

Our on-board educational programs continue on the South Shore Line!  We are taking a break for a couple of the upcoming weekends due to Taste of Chicago and other major events going on in the city that will result in sold out trains.  But, don’t worry… we will be back on-board with a Rail Rangers “Doubleheader Weekend”.  Docents will be aboard on both Saturday, July 27 and Sunday, July 28.  Additional dates in August are posted. In the next week or so, we will also post our remaining dates through December 2019… plan ahead and come out and ride with us and experience the fall foliage of the Indiana Dunes.

Amtrak Charters with the 20th Century Railroad Club:

If you are looking to catch the Midwest Rail Rangers aboard Amtrak, look no further than our charters organized by the 20th Century Railroad Club. Tickets are still available for upcoming excursions to Michigan (July 19-21),  Milwaukee and on to Green Bay via motorcoach (August 17), and of course our “signature” trip of the year — a two-day weekend excursion down to Carbondale on October 26-27. This excursion to Southern Illinois was designed by both the Midwest Rail Rangers AND the 20th Century RR Club. We will see the best of the southern part of the state via rail and motorcoach. Included are narration on the train and bus — plus an organized walk with a U.S. Forest Service Ranger and free time in Superman’s Hometown of Metropolis.  We and the 20th Century Railroad Club are looking for ideas for 2020 Amtrak Charter Trip ideas!

Private Rail Excursions:

Of course, our most popular trips that we offer involved private rail cars —- many of you have had the chance to ride with us aboard historic 1940’s, 1950’s, or 1960’s railcars. We partner 7 different private car owners and excursion organizers to bring you fun and entertaining on-board educational programs aboard excursions.  Our private rail excursion we hope you join us on will be aboard “Hollywood Beach”.  Sleeping car space and day trip space are available for this special trip that will be operating in September. Rail Rangers guides will be aboard between Chicago and Galesburg, Illinois on Sunday, September 15… between Kansas City and Chicago on Saturday, September 21 (NEW TRIP ADDED!!!)… and Chicago and St. Louis on Sunday, September 22.  This excursion will only run if enough seats are sold — especially two remaining sleeping car compartments. We would love to ride the rails and bring you fun stories once again aboard “Hollywood Beach”… one of the most beautiful single-level railcars out there.  A handful of tickets are also available for a special full-length dome car excursion that the Midwest Rail Rangers will be doing on the weekend of October 4-6, 2019 in partnership with Zephyr Route.  Zephyr Route was one of the Midwest Rail Rangers’ charter partners in 2015 and has offer an array of fun excursions over the year.  This “fall colors” trip will be no different — as we head up and down along the Mississippi River.  This is a fun and relaxing trip with a full day to relax in Minneapolis-St. Paul between excursions.

No matter if it’s on the South Shore, an Amtrak charter, or a private rail excursion… we hope that you can make Rail Rangers part of your summer plans this year!

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #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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Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #2: 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.

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #1: 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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APRHF President and Treasurer Check out the South Shore With the Rail Rangers!!

(This article was written by APRHF President Bob Cox. The Rail Rangers were an outreach affiliate of the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation from July 20, 2015 to December 22, 2018).

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“Why are we getting up this early?” was the question when the alarm went off at 5:30 am. Oh yes, it is South Shore train ride day! That made getting up early much more bearable. It was not long before the Chicago Coordinators Robert and Kandace Tabern showed up at the hotel to pick us up and whisk us off to Millennium Station. Not our first visit there, but our first time to actually ride the South Shore. It was also our first time to review the South Shore program that the Rail Rangers do on select weekends. Once we boarded the train, Robert put out the speakers while Kandace got the scripts and props ready and Steve got the microphone ready.

Almost ready for sound check. Check 1, 2, 3… We are ready to go!

It is now time to wait for departure. A few people came right to the car because they read about the program online. One of our newest APRHF members, Keith Thomas, joined us all the way from Milwaukee. He takes a seat and gets ready for his first ride on the South Shore, too.

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All Aboard! And we are off. The Rail Rangers program is announced on the train and passengers are told which car it is in if they want to join. Soon the car was full. Steve is doing the route to South Bend, Indiana this morning.

The route miles are rolling by and people are having a good time listening to the program and reading their handouts.

Beverly Shores station is a flag stop along the route. It boasts a unique style of architecture for this area.

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Before we know it, Michigan City is upon us. This is the Headquarters for the South Shore Railroad. Michigan City is known for having the last street running for an interurban railroad. It sure is fun rolling down the middle of the street. They of course have a yard with equipment and everyone was enjoying spying the caboose. Sorry no picture, mine was blurry.

Here is the old Michigan City station. This area is still served, just a little farther down the road.

There was an ad car in the yard (pic 1). Got a clean view of the pantographs up on some equipment (pic 2). All the South Shore trains originate in Michigan City.

After Michigan City, it is back on the fast track as we roll on to South Bend Airport with a carload of passengers continuing to learn about the route and the neat things that we are passing.

Next up, South Bend Airport. We made it! All passengers detrain and this give us time for some lunch and some conversation with the crew and each other. The food in the airport was good. They had some cool snacks. The Bar Fly is the name of the cafe.

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Lunch is over and it is time to head back to Chicago. Robert and Kandace will be narrating the route back home. A side note is each guide does the route differently, that way you do not hear the same stories both ways.

We had a nice ride back to Chicago and Keith didn’t fall asleep, so I guess we all did good. It was fun visiting with the passengers and listening to the program as we rolled across Illinois and Indiana. All to soon, we were at the bumping post in Millennium Station.

The Rail Rangers are an outreach of the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation. They do interpretive narration on private rail car tours and this South Shore program. To go on a trip with them or get your own route guide, check out www.railrangers.org.

 

 

APRHF Rail Rangers South Shore Line Educational Programs: August – December 2018 Schedule Announced

If you’re looking for something fun to do this summer or fall in the Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana area that won’t break your budget… then consider joining the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation’s (APRHF) Rail Rangers aboard the historic and scenic South Shore Line!  Rail Rangers’ Interpretive Guides will be presenting onboard educational programs about the people, places, and history that can be seen along the 90-mile train route between Downtown Chicago and South Bend, Indiana. Programs presented in September and October will highlight the brilliant fall colors seen from the train while passing through the Indiana Dunes State Park and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Those who attend the Rail Rangers’ programs will have a better understanding about the four National Park Service affiliated sites and two Indiana State Parks that are located near the train route, in addition to areas on the South Side of Chicago, the historic steel mill area of Northwest Indiana, and the “bread basket” farming region of La Porte and St. Joseph Counties in Indiana. These educational programs are presented in partnership between the 501(c)(3) non-profit American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation and the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD), which operates the South Shore Line train service.

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APRHF Vice President Robert Tabern explained, “Our Interpretive Guides have presented 30 programs over the past year on the South Shore Line… and the reaction from passengers have been extremely positive. You’re on the train for sometimes over two hours if you are going all the way from Chicago to South Bend… so people are very happy to have some fun and educational entertainment for their journey besides their I-pod or phone. We share stories that even seasoned residents of Chicago or Northwest Indiana don’t know about.”

APRHF Secretary Kandace Tabern added, “We have some people who ride the train just to hear our onboard educational programs… sometime they’ll ride the whole round-trip with us from Chicago. Often times, passengers will ride with us to Dune Park… hike around for a few hours… and then catch us back on the westbound return trip. Other times, passengers just catch us by chance not knowing we are on… and are pleasantly surprised they will have a fun history lesson on their trip that morning or afternoon.”

Volunteers from the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation began presenting onboard educational programs for passengers in May 2013; including for two years aboard Amtrak’s Southwest Chief route under the banner of Trails & Rails.  The APRHF Rail Rangers was founded in July 2015 with the mission of presenting onboard educational programs on private rail excursions across the Upper Midwest. Their schedule expanded to doing public programs aboard the South Shore Line in August 2017. The South Shore Line is recognized as one of the last true ‘interurban’ electric railroads left anywhere in the United States.

Rail Rangers Interpretive Guide Kathy Bruecker mentioned, “The South Shore Line has been so supportive of our ‘history talks’ on their trains… they’re so great to work with. Many passengers don’t realize that the railroad has a rich history that dates back over 100 years. The current management of the South Shore really embraces their history… and even though our onboard programs are more about what passengers are seeing out their window than about train history… it’s something people get quite the kick out of. There is one location near Michigan City where travelers can see what the train cars in the 1920’s and 1930’s looked like when we pass by what appears to be a scrap yard.”

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The APRHF Rail Rangers’ eastbound onboard programs will take place on the below dates aboard Train #503, which departs Chicago (Millennium Station) at 8:40am CT and arrives at South Bend (Airport Station) at 12:10PM ET. Meanwhile, westbound onboard educational programs take place on the below dates aboard Train #506, which departs South Bend (Airport Station) at 1:05PM ET and arrives into Chicago (Millennium Station) at 2:39PM CT:

*Saturday, August 11, 2018

*Saturday, August 25, 2018

*Sunday, September 9, 2018

*Saturday, October 20, 2018

*Saturday, November 3, 2018

*Sunday, November 18, 2018

*Saturday, December 15, 2018

*Sunday, December 23, 2018

Passengers have the choice to ride with the APRHF Rail Rangers for the entire round-trip journey, an entire one-way segment, or any portion of the route they want. Narration by the APRHF Rail Rangers is only provided in one designated car of the eight-car train set; often times the ‘Rail Rangers Car’ is located in the center of the train and is designated by yellow signs hung up in the car. There is no additional fee to listen to an APRHF Rail Rangers program above the standard South Shore Line fare/ticket (a round-trip to South Bend costs less than $30!). No reservations are needed or accepted; seating in the ‘Rail Rangers Car’ is on a first come, first serve basis. It is recommended passengers who want to hear the program board at the origin station, that being Chicago Millennium Station for the eastbound program or South Bend Airport Station for the westbound program to have a better chance of getting preferred seating in the ‘Rail Rangers Car’.

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In addition to the public programs being offered this summer and fall, the APRHF Rail Rangers are scheduled to provide at least three onboard educational programs for private groups — this includes on Monday, August 20th for Country Travel DISCOVERIES’ ‘Farmers on the Bum’ Tour Group… Saturday, September 15th for the Duneland Seniors Group… and on Saturday, October 6th for the 20th Century Railroad Club who is planning an outing to the Hesston Steam Museum.

APRHF President Bob Cox adds, “The APRHF Rail Rangers are always available to give special programs for groups too! We have presented onboard educational programs for senior and other travel groups… plus we have provided off-the-train Power Point presentations about the history of the South Shore Line and a look at private rail cars of the Midwest for groups. Just contact us at info@railrangers.org if you want to set something up.”

If you are not able to travel with the APRHF Rail Rangers on any of the above dates, but would like to still learn about the train route… you have three other options. The APRHF Rail Rangers’ Interpretive Guides have written and published a 100+ page railroad route guidebook for the South Shore that passengers can use on their own. “Outside the Rails: A Railroad Route Guide from Chicago to South Bend Airport” is available in both traditional soft-cover book form and  a downloadable e-book PDF version at www.MidwestRails.com.  And brand new… also available at the website… passengers can also enjoy a downloadable MP3 podcast narration of the route. Both an eastbound and westbound version are available. A portion of the proceeds from the books, e-books, and podcasts, go to support the APRHF Rail Rangers’ onboard educational efforts on the South Shore Line.

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You can also meet some of the APRHF Rail Rangers’ Interpretive Guides during the upcoming TrainFest 2018 at the State Fair Park Expo Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Saturday, November 10, 2018 and Sunday, November 11, 2018 from 9:00AM to 5:00PM. Guides will be on hand to answer questions about our programs and will be selling all 11 editions of the railroad route guidebooks they have written for the various railroad routes across the Upper Midwest, plus their popular ‘Junior Rail Rangers’ Kids Activity Book.

Mark Your Calendars: APRHF Rail Rangers Annouce Summer 2018 South Shore Schedule

This spring and summer will definitely be a busy one for the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation’s Rail Rangers program. Volunteer Interpretive Guides with our 501(c)(3) non-profit organization will be presenting more than one dozen on-board educational programs on the South Shore Line between the months of April and August. Get your calendar out and plan to join us for a trip or two! The best part is… there is no extra cost above your regular train ticket to participate. One-way adult fares are $13.50 or less… making it extremely affordable for families to travel and learn about the people, places, and history right outside their window between Chicago and South Bend. There’s no reservations needed either — just hop on and off where you want.

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For the past eight months now, volunteers with the APRHF Rail Rangers have been riding the South Shore Line between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana, on select weekend dates, sharing interesting facts with passengers about what they are seeing out their windows. The South South Line is one of the very last electric interurban railroads left anywhere in the United States; it connects Downtown Chicago with communities such as Hammond, Gary, Dune Park, Beverly Shores, Michigan City, Hudson Lake, and South Bend. The train line is quite scenic, passing through (or very close to) four National Park Service units — including the Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor, Pullman National Monument, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and the Kankakee River National Water Trail.

Rail Rangers Executive Director Robert Tabern says, “The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, who runs the South Shore Line, has been incredibly supportive of having APRHF Rail Rangers Interpretive Guides aboard. Their management team received such positive feedback from passengers about our programs that our initial six-month test period was extended into 2019 now. We are so glad the NICTD agrees with us — that passengers get so much more out of their rides when they know about the cool things out their window.”

Interpretive Guide Kathy Bruecker, who has narrated on several South Shore Line trips for the APRHF Rail Rangers adds, “I really enjoy telling people about the lesser-known stories along the route. In Michigan City, the route of the South Shore crosses where President Abraham Lincoln’s Funeral Train passed through on May 1, 1865. Residents of the town turned out by the thousands and built a giant arch to commemorate the slain leader. A bit down the line, there is a small lake that contains jelly fish. People don’t expect that in Indiana. These jelly fish are just about the size of nickles and contain very small stingers. No one really even know how they got there. There are even swamps we pass by in St. Joseph County that contain carnivorous plants. Even regular South Shore Line riders are stunned at some of the things out there they didn’t know about.”

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Passengers can learn about these stories and much more by riding with the APRHF Rail Rangers this coming spring and summer on the South Shore Line.

Interpretive Guides typically ride one round-trip between Chicago-Millennium Station and South Bend-Airport Station two to three Saturdays per month. Eastbound trips leave Downtown Chicago at 8:40am Central Time and arrive in South Bend at 12:10pm Eastern Time. Westbound trips leave South Bend at 1:05pm Eastern Time and return to Downtown Chicago at 2:40pm Central Time. Programs are presented on one car of the train – just look for the yellow Rail Rangers signs to see what car Guides are in. Seating is on a first come, first serve basis… no reservations are taken.

Upcoming Spring/Summer 2018 Program Dates are below:

APRIL: April 7*, April 14 & April 28

MAY: May 5* & May 19

JUNE: June 3* & June 16*

JULY: July 8* & July 14

AUGUST: August 11, August 20* (for a private group), August 25

(Dates with an asterisk indicate our ‘enhanced’ programs that feature our Junior Rail Rangers program and our APRHF Passport Program Cancellation Stamps)

Chicago Coordinator Kandace Tabern says, “We are really excited about the positive response travelers have had to our programs. We have even got contacted by several private travel groups in the past couple of months that want us to narrate for them. In March, we did a special private program for more than 40 members of the Duneland Seniors organization. At the end of August, we are doing another special private program for Farmers on the Bum, a group of friends from Appleton, Wisconsin who travel together every year somewhere. It’s really cool they heard about the Rail Rangers and want to check out the amazing South Shore Line.”

Passengers who travel on other South Shore Line departures when Interpretive Guides are not aboard, can still learn about the sites out their window through a route guide book written by the Rail Rangers. “Outside the Rails: A Rail Route Guide from Chicago to South Bend, IN”, which contains more than 100 pages of information, is available online at MidwestRails.com as both a regular hard copy book ($20) and a downloadable e-book PDF file ($15). We’re told a podcast version is even in the works for later this summer! Proceeds from the sale of route guides go toward funding the APRHF Rail Rangers’ program on the South Shore, including expenses for route guide sheets and other handouts, a wireless speaker system, and the insurance required by the NICTD. A limited number of route guidebooks are sometimes for sale on select South Shore Line excursions, too.

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The American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation began its on-board educational programs in 2012, co-sponsoring an Amtrak/National Park Service Trails & Rails route through Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri. In 2015, the APRHF’s Trails & Rails program transitioned into the APRHF Rail Rangers. The organization’s main focus is providing on-board educational programs on private rail excursions on historic private rail excursions across the Upper Midwest. Public programs on the South Shore launched on August 5, 2017.

For more information about the APRHF Rail Rangers, check out their websites, DunesTrain.com and RailRangers.org, or drop their management team an e-mail at info@railrangers.org. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter.

APRHF Rail Rangers’ Spring & Summer 2018 Private Rail Schedule: Illinois, Missouri, Michigan & More…

The APRHF Rail Rangers have been working hard with their private rail partners over the last few months to design memorable excursions once again in 2018. Tickets are on sale now for all three of these trips – so here is a sneak peek:

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CHICAGO TO ST. LOUIS, MO: Join APRHF Rail Rangers Interpretive Guide Dave Poole on Friday, April 27, 2018 for a trip on the old Alton Route between Chicago and St. Louis, MO. This trip is organized by Zephyr Route Tours and will feature a private full-length dome car. The train departs Chicago Union Station at 9:25am and arrives into St. Louis Gateway Station at 3:00pm. Dave will narrate about interesting landmarks such as the I&M Canal, Route 66, the Lincoln sites of Central Illinois, and the Gateway Geyser and St. Louis Arch. You’ll enjoy the 284-mile-long trip in style with meals prepared freshly aboard the train. While narration will only be provided on the southbound leg, this trip is part of a three-day package offered by Zephyr Route tours, who you will need to purchase tickets through. Travelers will have all day to explore St. Louis before returning home on Sunday, April 29, 2018. The per person fare of $749 from Chicago includes deluxe roundtrip travel on board the restored dome car (with Rail Rangers narration one way), meals and beverages aboard the train, and transfers to/from the hotel with two nights lodging. Lower fares may be available from Bloomington and Springfield (subject to availability). An optional trolley tour of St. Louis will be offered during the weekend for an extra cost. Those interested in making reservations should contact Zephyr Route Tours directly at (630) 542-3607, or zephyr360@att.net.

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CHICAGO TO KALAMAZOO, MI: Join APRHF Rail Rangers Interpretive Guide Fred Glure on Saturday, May 5, 2018 for a trip through the south side of Chicago, the historic steel-mill region of Northwest Indiana, and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore en route to Kalamazoo, Michigan. APRHF Rail Rangers will be teaming up with the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago for a weekend trip between Chicago and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Passengers depart Chicago at 7:20am CT and arrive in Kalamazoo, MI just before Noon ET. This is a charter of an Amtrak coach car and will feature either Amfleet or Horizon equipment. Fred will provide commentary about the route through Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan and will have free APRHF Rail Rangers route guide sheet handouts for all of the passengers. From Kalamazoo, passengers will head to Holland, Michigan for a special Tulip Time presentation. Note the APRHF Rail Rangers are only providing narration one-way from Chicago to Kalamazoo on May 5th… however, this trip package has travelers overnight-ing in Michigan and returning on Sunday, May 6, 2018. The price is $329 per person double occupancy for the weekend package. Those interested should contact the 20th Century Railroad Club directly to purchase their tickets at trips@20thcentury.org or (312) 829-4500.

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CHICAGO TO GALESBURG, ILLINOIS/QUINCY, ILLINOIS/HANNIBAL, MISSOURI: APRHF Rail Rangers will also be teaming up with Zephyr Route Tours for a day-trip between Chicago and Hannibal, Missouri on Saturday, June 23, 2018. Passengers depart Chicago at 7:35am and have the option of either riding in a full-length restored dome car to Galesburg (approximate 10:15am arrival) or Quincy (approximate Noon arrival). Those going to Galesburg will have seven hours to spend at the annual Galesburg Railroad Days event. Those going to Quincy will head to Hannibal, Missouri via motorcoach for an afternoon of fun that can include exploring Mark Twain’s hometown, or possibly taking a riverboat ride on the Mississippi River (additional fee). Rail Rangers Executive Director Robert Tabern and Rail Rangers Chicago Coordinator Kandace Tabern will be on the westbound journey to narrate and hand out free route guide sheets. Interpretive Guides Robert Neil and Dave Poole will be on the eastbound trip back to Chicago to point out additional landmarks. Learn about sites such as the busy BNSF “Racetrack”, Cicero and Al Capone, the Cherry Mine Disaster, the “high bridges” west of Princeton, Illinois, and the camel farm. Yes — there really are camels visible from the train between Galesburg and Quincy. Will you have a sharp enough eye to spot them?Those interested in making reservations should contact Zephyr Route Tours directly at (630) 542-3607, or zephyr360@att.net. The price is JUST $199.00; this includes the train ride and meals aboard the train, plus round-trip motorcoach between Quincy and Hannibal. This is a GREAT opportunity for those interested in seeing what a private railcar trip is all about!

UPDATE: ABOVE TRIP IS NOW “SOLD OUT”… PLEASE CALL TO BE PLACED ON A WAITING LIST

If you can’t make any of these trips — don’t worry! Additional private railcar trips to Wisconsin and Minnesota are expected to be announced soon for later in the summer and/or early fall. Be sure to be among the first to get notice of these trips by signing up for the APRHF Rail Rangers’ e-newsletter through their website, www.railrangers.org.

Remember, the APRHF Rail Rangers also offer their onboard educational programs two to three times per month on the South Shore Line between Chicago and South Bend, For a complete schedule head to www.railrangers.org or www.dunestrain.com. Programs depart Chicago at 8:40am CT and arrive South Bend at 12:10pm ET… then depart South Bend at 1:05pm and arrive back in Chicago around 2:40pm CT. Roundtrip fares on the South Shore are $27 or less. Rail Rangers’ programs take place in one car on the train and seating is strictly on a first come, first serve basis. We are usually towards the center of the train — just look for our bright yellow signs and Interpretive Guides in black uniforms sitting forward the middle of the car.

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Upcoming program dates for the South Shore are: March 10 (narrating for a private group Dune Park – South Bend R/T), March 24, April 7, April 14, April 28, May 5, June 2, June 16, August 20 (narrating for another private group – One way Chicago to South Bend). Additional summer dates will be released next month.

For more information about the APRHF Rail Rangers, contact APRHF Vice President/Rail Rangers Executive Director Robert Tabern at info@railrangers.org.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from the APRHF Rail Rangers

As 2017 comes to a close and you are busy spending today (Christmas Day!) with your friends and family, we at the APRHF Rail Rangers would like to take a minute out of the busy holiday period and thank you for your support this year… and yes… we continue looking forward to serving you with what will likely be a record number of rail excursions with our Interpretive Guides aboard in 2018.

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As we have mentioned in several posts so far… this month we have been celebrating the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation’s 5th Anniversary of sponsoring on-board educational programs. Prior to this happening, much of the activity of the APRHF focused solely on the various rail-themed venues in La Plata, Missouri, such as the Exhibition of Amtrak History and Lookout Point Park. While this was all well and good, the decision was made in December 2012 by the APRHF Board of Directors to also expand the 501(c)(3) non-profit’s mission beyond the confines of just one city. An agreement was signed on December 3, 2012 with the National Park Service, Amtrak, and Texas A&M University to co-sponsor a Trails & Rails program on the Southwest Chief through portions of Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri. We reached out to over 50,000 Amtrak passengers during the course of our 2013, 2014, and 2015 seasons. If you rode the Southwest Chief during this time, you may have seen our volunteers in the Sightseer Lounge Car in their signature green shirts talking about such landmarks as Cherry Mine, the Mississippi River at Fort Madison, or maybe Gorin, Missouri, once home of the world’s tallest woman, Ella Ewing.

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When Trails & Rails decided to end the agreement in July 2015, it was because of YOUR support and YOUR positive calls and e-mails, that the APRHF Board of Directors decided to keep our on-board educational programs “on track” with the formation of the APRHF Rail Rangers program. It was something we would have direct control over and be able to better administer to the wants of our passengers. The rest has been history and amazing almost three years now of having our Interpretive Guides aboard dozens of private rail excursions — and now programs every two weeks or so on the South Shore Line.

APRHF Vice President Robert Tabern says, “Things have worked out so well with the APRHF Rail Rangers thanks to our supporters — especially folks who are APRHF Members. When we started the program back on July 20, 2015, we didn’t know what would happen. Obviously, we didn’t have the funds to organize our own private rail excursions. All we knew was because of Trails & Rails’ exclusive agreement with Amtrak, we have to find some other venue to do our programs. Private rail excursions was about the only route for us to go at the time.”

Succeed the APRHF Rail Rangers did. The organization currently has eight different partnership agreements in place to put its programs on for both public and private rail excursions; these include Friends of the 261, Zephyr Route Tours, American Rail Excursions, Friends of the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, Paxrail, South Shore Line, the National Park Service (Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore), and the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago. This doesn’t even include special short-term partnerships the APRHF Rail Rangers have had to do special programs, like with Iowa Pacific on the Hoosier State and the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP).

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APRHF Secretary and Rail Rangers Chicago Coordinator Kandace Tabern says, “We are so happy when we get a round of applause at the end of our programs from passengers. We always have people coming up to us on the train and asking how much more they have to pay to listen to our narration. Or sometimes we have people saying we have the best job in the world to be paid to narrate on trains all day long. It’s at that point, we explain we are part of a volunteer group called the APRHF Rail Rangers. It doesn’t cost you anything more to listen to us — we do it because we want people to be educated on what they are seeing out their window. And even though we DO think we have the best job in the world being part of the APRHF and the Rail Rangers, it’s a volunteer job. We don’t get paid anything for what we do. All of our Interpretive Guides have paid jobs during the week — we just do this on the weekends because we love spending time with all of the grateful passengers. It’s not about us — it’s about giving back and enhancing passengers’ experiences.”

Since the end of 2017 is just a week away, it’s time to look back and look forward.

The year 2017 saw some pretty exciting private rail excursions for the APRHF Rail Rangers. The “premiere” trip of the year took place between August 19-22, 2017, when more than 50 passengers boarded a full-length dome car in Chicago. Our partner for the weekend was Mike Abernathy and Zephyr Route Tours. The destination was the APRHF Headquarters city of La Plata, Missouri. It was there all of the passengers spent two days and three nights. Stops in the area included the Walt Disney Museum in Marceline and a guided tour at Thousand Hills State Park. An unplanned stop to see the Weinermobile in Kirksville was even thrown in there! The real reason people made this trip was to see the Great American Total Solar Eclipse. Instead of fighting crowds and traffic, a special viewing was arranged at a private horse farm near Boonville, Missouri. The clouds broke just in time for everyone to witness the rare phenomenon. We even had Timm Bottoni aboard, who is an expert astronomer from the Chicagoland area to explain what everyone was viewing. It took everyone’s breath away when the horses and cattle began coming back to the barns when they thought it was sunset… but then they turned around and walked back out to the fields after the eclipse happened and it began to get lighter.

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Other private rail excursions in 2017 included trips to St. Louis, Springfield, and the Twin Cities with American Rail Excursions. The Friends of the 261 offered up their annual North Pole Express steam trip earlier this month in Saint Paul, Minnesota — our Interpretive Guides worked seven of the departures in just one day! Zephyr Route also featured trips to Galesburg, Quincy, Hannibal, and the Twin Cities.

Of course another big development in 2017 for the APRHF Rail Rangers happened with our public rail trips. We started the first two months of this year continuing on with our narration aboard the ex-Santa Fe dome car on the Hoosier State on select Sunday mornings between Lafayette, Indiana and Chicago, Illinois. Unfortunately, on March 1, 2017, Amtrak took back over the route from our partner – Iowa Pacific Holdings. Even though the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) got positive reviews about our onboard educational programs, Amtrak decided it did not want our Interpretive Guides aboard. Our last Hoosier State program took lace on Saturday, February 25, 2017. After some re-shuffling, INDOT made the initial contact to get our public program shifted over to the South Shore Line. Our Interpretive Guides spent much of the spring and summer leaning the new route – with the first program launching on Saturday, August 5, 2017. In just five months, a whole new program was developed! That’s pretty good for an all-volunteer group. The South Shore Line received so much positive feedback from passengers, a long-term deal was recently signed with even the National Park Service coming aboard to be a co-sponsor. Again, all of this happens because of YOUR e-mail and YOUR support… including YOU becoming a new APRHF Member or by renewing your membership.

This time of the year is also one to look ahead.

Right now, we continue to work with our private rail partners on 2018 trips. Some of the destinations we may be headed to in the New Year? Well, St. Paul, Duluth, Hannibal, Quincy, Galesburg, Springfield, St. Louis, and many more are in the planning phases. We are not quite ready to announce any dates yet — but we are hoping to have something for you by late February or early March, if not even sometime next month. Stay tuned! Of course, feedback on where you would like to go in a historic dome car or observation car is always welcome. Just drop us an e-mail at railrangers@aprhf.org.

We also are excited to continue our South Shore Line program in 2018. We’ll be going out this Saturday (December 30, 2017) and three times in January 2018 (January 6, January 20, and January 27). We will also be posting our February, March, and April dates on here soon! Check back for a post on this website on New Years’ Day that will list those… we are expecting to do at least seven additional programs during this period. The best part of the South Shore programs are — there are NO reservations. Just hop on when you want on an assigned Rail Rangers dates and enjoy. It’s just $27 round-trip from Chicago to South Bend. You get more than 4 hours worth of narration during that time and a 180 mile train ride.

So, time to get off the ol’ computer and wrap this up… so we can enjoy some time with our families opening presents today! But, once again, THANK YOU for being an APRHF Member and/or supporter of our APRHF Rail Rangers program. If you haven’t already, please give us a “like” on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/railrangers. We are very close to getting 400 “likes”! A little elf told us that there’s even a special Christmas message LIVE from Union Station over there for you to watch now. If you have ridden with the APRHF Rail Rangers, but haven’t taken the full leap of becoming an APRHF Member — we encourage you to do that in the New Year. Memberships start at just $10 per year — that’s like 83 cents per month. We also offer higher membership that will further your experience. For example, for just $65 a month, you get a NARM reciprocal membership deal that also lets you into hundreds of museums across the country for free. You can easily make up that $65 you spend in membership dues with what you save by visiting other museums. All of the money raised goes towards the various APRHF venues in La Plata, but also for supporting the Rail Rangers program — and upkeep on our wireless speaker system, research, and paying for the maps and handouts we give out to passengers for free.

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!