Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #18 — Working with Our Partners to Plan 2020 Excursions — January 19, 2020

January, February, and even into early March might come across to our followers as a “slow time” for the Midwest Rail Rangers… because our public schedule is really just dotted with a few South Shore trips… and that’s about it. While that is true to a degree… things are really at their busiest “behind the scenes” this time of the year for our Board of Directors. We have been working hard with all of our partners over the past few weeks to discuss what trips and events worked well in 2019… how we can improve on what we did last year… and what fun and exciting things we will be working together towards in the year ahead. Right now, we are just a few weeks away from announcing some of our first trips for 2020 that you will want to mark on your calendar and snag reservations for. We invite you to come out to the 2020 Mad City Rail Show on Saturday, February 15, 2020 and Sunday, February 16, 2020 to meet some of our Board Members and participate in the reveal of some of our destinations and trips for the coming year. If you’re not able to make it up to the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, WI that weekend… we will send you the information in our next E-Newsletter!

Our areas of focus for 2020 will continue to be our onboard educational programs that are offered on the South Shore Line approximately two to three weekends per month year-round. Our volunteers enjoy presenting programs for passengers on this line because there is always so much to talk about going on outside the windows. In just 90 miles, or a little over two hours, we travel from the third largest city in the country (Chicago) to the rural farmlands of St. Joseph County. Along the way, we are passing through four state park areas, two units of the National Park Service, and two affiliated NPS units. We will be working with the Indiana Dunes State Park more closely in 2020 to train our Midwest Rail Rangers volunteers — more details on this coming out soon in a future E-Newsletter!

Another area of focus in 2020 for the Midwest Rail Rangers is expanding our partnership with our friends at the family-owned Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad in Trego, Wisc. As you probably know, to become a truly “Midwest” (and not just a Chicago) organization, we moved our headquarters last month to Northwest Wisconsin.  The Wisconsin Great Northern acquired a Santa Fe Hi-Level Lounge Car / Amtrak Pacific Parlour Car last year. We did a couple of ‘test runs’ with them on weekends in which we created displays aboard the car featuring Santa Fe and Amtrak sistory. These event were a great success and featured between 200 and 300 visitors who traveled from all across the area to see our displays. We look forward to hosting more events aboard the WGNRR’s Sky Parlour in 2020.  We hope to have some firm dates worked out soon. Rides on the Sky Parlour will begin in early May 2020. This is a fun and growing railroad — and is well worth the drive up from the Chicago and Milwaukee areas.

We will also be working with the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago again… with our Interpretive Guides riding along and providing narration on many of their 2020 excursions once again. We have worked with their management and trip organizer team and have narrowed down our list of 2020 destinations. Trips will include a round-trip down to St. Louis in the spring… a trip to Galesburg and Peoria in June… and the premiere trip of the season will likely be a September four day, three night trip to several tourist railroads in Northwest Wisconsin and Minnesota. Plus, much more!   Stay tuned… as will begin promoting our 20th Century RR Club partner trips next month.

And last but not least — we will continue to provide our signature educational programs on private rail excursions in 2020, as well. As you may know… we founded the Rail Rangers almost 5 years ago now with the sole goal of providing programs on private rail excursions. However, in 2018 and 2019, Amtrak put severe restrictions on private car movements… while also exponentially increasing the cost for the fine men, women, and groups who own these cars. This does not look like it will change for 2020 at this point. With that said, know we are committed to working with our private rail partners as much as possible over the coming year to help design and promote their trips as much as we can. Whenever one of these trips is announced, we will send out special E-Newsletters so you on our supporters list can get the first dibs on tickets.

Sincerely,

Robert Tabern, MRR President

& the Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

 

2020 Donations Welcome!

In addition to the beginning quarter of every year being very busy “behind the scenes”… it is also the time of the year that the Midwest Rail Rangers incurs some of its biggest expenses. In fact, our single biggest regular expense every year is our insurance policy which comes up for renewal every February.. Many of our partners require the RailRangers to have a pretty pricey liability insurance policy in place. Without it… we wouldn’t be allowed on their railroad equipment to provide the talks, narration, and educational activities that you have come to enjoy.

Donations (cash, charge, Paypal, etc.) in ANY amount are appreciated and will help fund our on-board educational programs. And of course, with the Midwest Rail Rangers being a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization… the amount you donate is tax deductible. We are more than happy to provide a donation receipt upon request.

The best way to make a donation is to head to our website… www.RailRangers.org. Then, click on the icon in the lower left side that says “Support our Onboard Educational Programs” / “Make a Donation – Click Here”. Credit cards and Pay Pal are accepted here.

You can also just click the link at the TOP or BOTTOM of this E-Newsletter.

We also accept donations of historical railroad memorabilia!  If you have something that you think might be of interest to our organization, contact our Board of Directors at board@railrangers.org. If the donation is needed, it will be fully tax deductible at fair market value. Earlier this year, we had a gentleman from Indiana donate his collection of nearly 100 old South Shore Line timetables. Currently, we are in need of items relating to the South Shore Line (especially from the 1920’s to 1940’s era)… and anything relating to the Santa Fe Hi-Level lounge cars and Amtrak’s Pacific Parlour Cars.
We put these items on display during select onboard educational programs and outreach events so everyone can enjoy them.

Winter & Early Spring 2020 South Shore Dates Posted

While the winter and early spring is often the “quiet time” for the Midwest Rail Rangers (this allows us to focus on working with our private rail and other partners and re-doing our rail route guides)… our South Shore Line programs continue two to three weekends per month. Having a year-round presence on a railroad is something that is very important to our organization.

Program dates through April 30, 2020 are posted at www.RailRangers.org.

All eastbound programs begin at 8:40am CST out of Millennium Station at Michigan & Randolph in Downtown Chicago.  All westbound programs begin at 1:05pm EST out of South Bend Airport. You can of course join us at any point along the route — but note seating is ONLY available on a first come, first serve basis.

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #17 — Merry Christmas from the Midwest Rail Rangers / 2019 Year in Review — December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas & Happy New Years from the Midwest Rail Rangers

The Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors and our Interpretive Guides would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year!  The holidays are a very special time — and we want to take a few minutes to thank you right here on Christmas Eve morning for your support in 2019.

Since this will also be our final E-Newsletter sent out to our supporters in 2019, we also decided to take a minute and look back at what was a very monumental and pivotal year for our 501(c)(3) non-profit organization – and where things stand as we head into a new decade! We no doubt had a very fun and action-packed past 358 days… and we sincerely hope that you were able to take part in at least one of our partners’ excursions or one of our outreach events.
You may recall that 2019 started with the Midwest Rail Rangers becoming its own independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. For the initial almost four years of its existence, the Rail Rangers had been associated with a railroad historical group in Missouri. As our goals for became increasingly different that that of our former parent organization – it was clear in late 2018 that it was in everyone’s best interest to file the paperwork needed to become our own independent group. This process was completed following the government shutdown that took place for most of January 2019… and has been no doubt a very necessary move for the future of the Rail Rangers. It let our newly formed Board have local control over the organization and its finances… and focus strictly on our mission of providing onboard educational programs for passengers. I would like to take a minute and thank my fellow 2019 Board Members — this includes Vice President Robert Neil, Treasurer Dave Poole, Secretary Kathy Brucker, and Educational Officer Kandace Tabern — for going above and beyond this year. The first year of any new organization is no doubt the most challenging and stressful and our team met each and every challenge head-on and got everything and anything asked of them accomplished in record time. The transformation of the Rail Rangers into its own entity would no doubt have gone as smoothly without their hard work – and the hard work of all of our Interpretive Guides and you, our faithful supporters.
The middle portion of the year saw tremendous growth for the Midwest Rail Rangers once again — with the addition of three new partners. In the spring, we formed a partnership agreement with Keith White — owner of the beautiful private car “Hollywood Beach”. This led to us providing onboard educational programs aboard a number of his private railroad excursions — including a round-trip to Carbondale and one-way trips down to St. Louis and Kansas City. If you rode with us this year, you will agree the “Hollywood Beach” might be one of the finest single-level observation cars around… with Keith being one of the nicest and most down-to-earth private car owners. We also formed a partnership agreement with Blue Pine Rail, a start-up group out of Northwest Indiana that provided a private car charter on the final run of Amtrak’s Hoosier State over the summer between Indianapolis and Chicago. This group is run by two gentlemen in their early 20’s who no doubt have a bright future in historical railroading in the Chicagoland area. Finally, in the fall, we formed a new partnership with the family-run Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad. They have been in business for 23 years now with their popular bed and breakfast/dinner trains, but have just acquired a former Santa Fe Hi-Level lounge car/Amtrak Pacific Parlour Car. We had the opportunity to do one “test run” with them in October where we set up various Santa Fe and Amtrak memorabilia aboard their car and welcomed passengers aboard open-house style while parked at the depot in Trego, Wisconsin. We had somewhere between 200 and 300 visitors — some coming from as far as the Twin Cities and Chicago to attend. We very much appreciate these three new partners (as well as all of our other returning partners such as Zephyr Route, Friends of the 261, Paxrail, 20th Century Railroad Club, Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, the South Shore Line/NICTD, Iowa Pacific, etc.) and are excited about what 2020 will bring with each of these great organizations.
One of our main focuses for the last quarter of 2019 has been on re-locating the Midwest Rail Rangers Headquarters/Office from Elm Grove, Wisconsin (suburban Milwaukee) to Barron, Wisconsin (about 90 minutes away from the Twin Cities). Once we are finished unpacking and getting settled in… we will have approximately three times the office space than we have had in the past. This will allow us to have more room to administer all things Rail Rangers related… as we begin our 5th full year of operations. Things went well with the initial move on December 8, 2019 and we hope to have our office up and running fully by Monday, January 6, 2020. Relocating to Northwest Wisconsin means we will closer to our new partner — the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad — as we look forward to doing many more educational programs aboard their Sky Parlour Car starting up again in the Spring. We will also be closer to the Twin Cities — where a lot of private rail equipment is housed (much more than Chicago!).  While two of our staff members will be relocating as a result… most of our crew and our Board will remain in the Chicago/Milwaukee areas… as they remain close to the South Shore Line program and our other endeavors. Simply put, this move will benefit the organization — and let us truly be the MIDWEST Rail Rangers — instead of just being mainly focused on just Chicago-based activities.
Finally, our whole Board and all of our Interpretive Guides (and hopefully you, too!) are looking forward to whatever 2020 will bring. We expect to continue to offer our on-board educational programs on the South Shore Line between Chicago, Illinois and South Bend, Indiana two to three times per month year-round throughout 2020. This has been one of our most popular features for the Midwest Rail Rangers over the past three years — and our contract with the South Shore extends into 2021 now. Starting in 2020, we will be partnering with the Indiana Dunes State Park to better educate our Guides — and promote our program dates. We’ll have more on this for you in one of our future E-Newsletters when more details are worked out — but this is something new and exciting to look forward to as we flip our calendars. The goal will be to have our programs on the South Shore be official state park interpretive programs and be on their online calendar. Meanwhile, our Board is already well into discussions with our private rail partners and the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago to provide you with fun and exciting trip destinations. Some of the trips being discussed include excursions to St. Louis, Michigan, Northwest Wisconsin, and much, much more. We understand that 2020 may be another difficult year for private railcar owners and excursion organizers as Amtrak’s restrictions on where cars can operate to continue… but we… and our partners are going to do whatever they can to continue to provide you with fun trips to ride along on — and we will work our hardest to bring you the fun and educational commentary you have grown to expect from us. Last but not least, this will be the first full year that the Wisconsin Great Northern will operate its Sky Parlour Car service — and we will soon be hammering out our schedule of dates our Guides will be at the railroad to share the car’s exciting and rich history. We hope you will make the trek up to Trego, Wisconsin in 2020 and attend one of the weekends the Rail Rangers will be helping out share more about these rare and historical lounge cars that once graced the Santa Fe’s El Capitan and Amtrak’s Coast Starlight.
If you have any questions or suggestions, we’re always here to listen to you!  Just drop us an e-mail at board@railrangers.org and we promise you a quick and prompt reply. Please keep checking our main website (www.RailRangers.org) in the months ahead as we begin to post confirmed trip dates. Updates will be sent via E-Newsletter, too.  You can also show your support for the Midwest Rail Rangers by purchasing our railroad route guide books, e-books, or podcasts to take along on your next personal railroad trip.  It’s almost like having someone narrate to you aboard the train! – they are that good. And your purchases help support our 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and keep things rolling.  The Midwest Rail Rangers Store can be accessed 24-7 at www.MidwestRails.com!
We hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas, Holiday, and New Year!

Sincerely, Robert Tabern – MRR President

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #16 — Happy Thanksgiving from the Midwest Rail Rangers — November 26, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving from the Midwest Rail Rangers

As we are sitting down to dinner with our family and friends tonight… the Midwest Rail Rangers would like to take a quick “time out” and wish you and your family and friends a HAPPY THANKSGIVING.

We are truly thankful for your support over the past almost five years now!  Without your interest in our on-board educational programs and your generous donations… our 501(c)(3) non-profit organization would not be where it is today.

As the Rail Rangers prepares to celebrate its 5th Anniversary in 2020… we are very humble and grateful for your support at all levels. We hope you will ride with us again in the New Year… as we hope to begin releasing more program dates in the months ahead on the South Shore, at the Wisconsin Great Northern (Sky Parlour), private rail trips, 20th Century Railroad Club Amtrak coach charters, and outreach events.

Reminder: Donations for 2019 Tax Year!

 If you are interested in making a donation to the Midwest Rail Rangers and having it count on your 2019 taxes — this is just a reminder than you have only 32 days left to make your contribution.

 

Donations (cash, charge, Paypal, etc.) in ANY amount are appreciated and will help fund our on-board educational programs. And of course, with the Midwest Rail Rangers being a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization… the amount you donate is tax deductible. We are more than happy to provide a donation receipt upon request.

The best way to make a donation is to head to our website… www.RailRangers.org. Then, click on the icon in the lower left side that says “Support our Onboard Educational Programs” / “Make a Donation – Click Here”. Credit cards and Pay Pal are accepted here.

You can also just click the link at the TOP or BOTTOM of this E-Newsletter.

We also accept donations of historical railroad memorabilia!  If you have something that you think might be of interest to our organization, contact our Board of Directors at board@railrangers.org. If the donation is needed, it will be fully tax deductible at fair market value. Earlier this year, we had a gentleman from Indiana donate his collection of nearly 100 old South Shore Line timetables. Currently, we are in need of items relating to the South Shore Line (especially from the 1920’s to 1940’s era)… and anything relating to the Santa Fe Hi-Level lounge cars and Amtrak’s Pacific Parlour Cars.

We put these items on display during select onboard educational programs and outreach events so everyone can enjoy them.

Moving Update & New Address!

As you may have read in our E-Newsletter sent about four weeks ago, the Midwest Rail Rangers has officially relocated our business office… from Elm Grove, Wisconsin (which is about 10 miles west of Downtown Milwaukee) to Barron, Wisconsin (which is about 90 minutes northwest of the Twin Cities).

 

The bulk of the move of our office equipment and records, etc. will take place on Monday, December 2nd and Tuesday, December 3rd. So, if you do contact us this week… please allow us a few days to respond… as our internet and other services also will take a couple of days to transfer between our old location and our new location.

However, our new post office box is fully up and running for your communication needs:

Midwest Rail Rangers

P.O. Box 184

Barron, WI  54812

Please do not send any mail to our old post office box in Elm Grove, WI… as it has already been closed down and mail will take an additional 2-3 days to be forwarded up to Barron, WIsconsin.

We hope to be fully up and running in Barron around December 18th.

We are excited about this move — as it will allow for a much larger space for our Board to administer the ever-growing Midwest Rail Rangers team.

While some of our Board members will be re-locating to NW Wisconsin, most of our Guides will be remaining in the Chicago area… and the quantity and quality of our programs will no doubt change.

By late spring, we even hope to have a visitor area on our new HQ’s property where people can come and check out more about the Rail Rangers by appointment.

 

 Join the Midwest Rail Rangers at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad on Saturday, December 7!
 
One last note — we hope you will come out to the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad on Saturday, December 7th and meet five of our Midwest Rail Rangers Interpretive Guides!

 

In anticipation of our HQ’s move to Barron, Wisconsin… and our exciting new partnership with the Wisconsin Great Northern (where we’ll be doing onboard educational programs on their Sky Parlour Car again coming this Spring!)… five of our Guides will be helping out with the 2:00pm Santa Pizza Train.  (Guides may also ride either the 11:00am or 5:30pm train, too!)

The Wisconsin Great Northern’s Santa’s Pizza Party is a popular way to celebrate the holiday season with your kids because it combines everyone’s favorite meal with a scenic train ride and a visit with Santa. Your ticket aboard Santa’s Pizza Party includes the 2 hour train ride, 1/2 pizza per person and your first soda, a visit with Santa in his private car, and a holiday cookie and hot chocolate on the return trip. (Family rate includes 2 adults and 3-5 children, 2 pizzas and a soda for each person.) Make your reservations for this family favorite.

Pizza comes 1/2 Sausage and 1/2 Pepperoni. Cheese pizza may be ordered in advance. Please call the WGN office at 715-635-3200 or add a comment at time of ordering online. Pizza will be ordered before your arrival at our station and will not be able to be changed at that time.

Tickets are very limited at this time for all departures.

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #15 — Midwest Rail Rangers Moving Headquarters to Barron, Wisconsin — November 4, 2019

Here is a look at some of the news items that we shared with subscribers of the Midwest Rail Rangers E-Newsletter on Monday, November 4, 2019:

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The MRR Headquarters is Moving

Sometimes the most exciting things in life are the unexpected… and that no doubt applied to the Midwest Rail Rangers in 2019… as we gained a major new partner that we were not expecting this time last year… the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad and their Sky Parlour. This new partnership is exciting… and will actually result in our headquarters city moving to Northwest Wisconsin in the coming weeks… so that our Interpretive Guides can have a bigger presence on the car and at the railroad in 2020. (Don’t worry, we will still continue with all of our Chicago-based on-board programs, too!)

Here’s the exciting details and how it all happened:

For a period of time… the Midwest Rail Rangers have maintained historical passenger train websites for people to browse through and enjoy —– such as LoungeCars.com, AmtrakDome.com, and PacificParlourCar.com… among others. One of the individuals who liked reading our websites was the owner of the family-operated Wisconsin Northern Railroad. So, when his organization (based in Trego, Wisconsin) ended up the successful bidder of a former Amtrak Pacific Parlour Car in April 2019… the Midwest Rail Rangers were among the first organizations contacted.

During this past spring and summer… the Midwest Rail Rangers and the Wisconsin Great Northern worked hand-in-hand to develop a fun program that could be presented to passengers on the former Pacific Parlour Car (now called a Sky Parlour Car) — whether people were riding or open houses were held on select weekends. Our first “open house” aboard the Sky Parlour took place on Saturday, October 5, 2019… and was a humungous success with more than 200 people showing up to take a tour through the car — looking at our exhibits of old Santa Fe and Amtrak memorabilia. Some people came from as far away as Eau Claire, the Twin Cities, and Chicago. We were simply in awe how many other people had special memories made aboard this car over the years.

After a successful “dry run” last month… we look forward to expanding and enhancing our partnership with the Wisconsin Great Northern beginning this spring. In addition to our talks two to three weekends per month on the South Shore — educational programs at the Wisconsin Great Northern on the Sky Parlour will be one of the two primary focuses in 2020 for the Midwest Rail Rangers. Expect to find Midwest Rail Rangers Guides at the WGNRR on select weekends between May and November 2020… with our schedule to be release in the coming months.

And… with that… our HQ move.

As the Wisconsin Great Northern’s Sky Parlour will become a significant point of focus for the Midwest Rail Rangers in the new year — our Board of Directors has decided to re-locate our official headquarters city — effective in a few weeks from now. We will be leaving Elm Grove, Wisconsin in the western suburbs of Milwaukee… and moving 300 miles northwest… to put down new stakes in Barron, Wisconsin — located along the historic Soo Line about 90 minutes east/northeast of the Twin Cities. (The town’s depot has even been renovated into a very nice coffee house!)

While our President will be relocating, too, you really won’t notice many changes to our programs. Most of our Interpretive Guides will be remaining down in the Chicagoland area… and yes… we will still be offering just as many programs on the South Shore as we did last year despite the move. We will also be working hard to have our guides be on board as many private rail excursions as possible in 2020. And the real win-win… is we will have a couple of our Interpretive Guides working just down the road from the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad too, now, to offer more regular programs to those of you who live in Northwest Wisconsin and Eastern Minnesota.

The only real change you will notice is our mailing address.

If you need to send us “snail mail”… starting November 8th… please use P.O. Box 184 Barron, WI 54812.

To celebrate our headquarters move… we will have five of our Midwest Rail Rangers docents meeting and greeting passengers at the Wisconsin Great Northern on Saturday, December 7th. Meet us before, during, or after their 11AM and 2PM “Pizza with Santa” train rides (tickets are going fast!)

Our move to Barron, Wisconsin also allows us to have more office space as the Rail Rangers enters its 5th year of operations — and continues to grow our services. We are even hoping to have a small varea (open by May 2020) to greet visitors by appointment. More details on this in our Winter and Spring E-Newsletters ahead on how this is all going to work.

Got a Suggestion for a 2020 Private Rail Excursion?

As just about all of the leaves are now done falling from the trees… and the first snowfall of the year hit some parts of the Midwest on the last day of October… things will begin slowing down a bit for the Midwest Rail Rangers in the months ahead (with the exception of our move!) This isn’t really a bad thing though — as the fall and winter months are typically used as a “time out” to plan out all of the exciting trips for the upcoming year.

After memorable private rail car excursions this spring and summer with Keith White’s “Hollywood Beach”, Zephyr Route tours, and Blue Pine Rail — the Midwest Rail Rangers and our private car partners want to know where you want to go in 2020 in a vintage observation car from the 1950’s or 1960’s. If you have any trip ideas, drop us an e-mail soon at board@railrangers.org. Your feedback is very important in the planning process… and any creative (but practical!) ideas you have will be passed along to the appropriate private rail car owner(s). Trips this year have included such destinations as Chicago, St. Louis, Carbondale, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Lafayette (Indiana), Milwaukee, and the Twin Cities. We hope to offer some new choices in 2020. As you are likely aware… Amtrak has both raised the costs on private car owners to run their car, while also severely limiting destinations and when private cars can run on the back of trains. This has caused many private rail car owners to sell off their cars, permanently park their cars, and/or cut back on the number of excursions offered to the public. Sadly, the Midwest Rail Rangers has also been impacted — with a lot less onboard educational programs offered in 2019 aboard private cars compared to the years past. We expect this trend to continue into 2020… however… know our Board of Directors remain committed to having the private car component be at least part of our overall mission — and we look forward to working with any and all operators bringing private car excursions through the Midwest. The best way to find out about upcoming private railcar trips with Midwest Rail Rangers volunteers aboard is to remain on our e-newsletter list. We hope to begin announcing some new private car trips around February or March 2020… however a lot depends on our private car partners who are responsible for organizing the trips.

Do You Also Have A Suggestion for a 20th Century Railroad Club Trip for 2020? We’re All Ears!

The Midwest Rail Rangers also had another exciting season partnering with the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago on their Amtrak coach train/motorcoach charters.The 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago has been the premiere railroad club of Chicago to be a member of since 1971… and we are very proud to have our Interpretive Guides provide narration and the route guides for most of their shorter two and three day trips. In fact, two of our guides were aboard just last weekend with the 20th Century Railroad Club — heading down to Carbondale on the Saluki for a two-day motorcoach tour of the Illinois Ozarks… with stops at a local winery, Shawnee National Forest, and Superman’s hometown of Metropolis. Other trips done earlier this year with the 20th Century included Green Bay, Milwaukee, Detroit, Galesburg, Quincy, and Hannibal. If you have any 2020 trip ideas to pass along to the 20th Century Railroad Club, you can also drop us an e-mail at board@railrangers.org. A few longer week-long trips for 2020 are already posted on the 20th Century’s website. We plan to meet with club officials in the coming weeks and months to hammer out our 2020 trip schedule with them. Stay tuned for some really good stuff! We expect some 20th Century/Rail Rangers partner trips to be announced around February or March 2020… if not sooner!

South Shore Line Programs Continue Over Winter

As we enter “planning mode” with less trips during the winter months ahead — remember our onboard educational trips on the South Shore Line between Downtown Chicago and South Bend, Indiana never have an “off-season”; they operate year-round. We feel this is important because the beautiful scenery of Illinois and Indiana — especially the Indiana Dunes State Park area — is someone that should be enjoyed every month out of the year. Upcoming program dates include November 17, November 30, December 14, December 15, and December 29. We hope to release our January 1-April 30, 2020 schedule around the end of November or beginning of December. We very much appreciate our ongoing partnership with the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) and look forward to our third year together in 2020 bringing you onboard educational programs on America’s last interurban railroad. There are some exciting additions coming to our program too in 2020. We can’t release the details quite yet —- but know you will definitely want to plan a trip with the Midwest Rail Rangers on the South Shore come Spring 2020 to learn even more about what’s out your window. Details will be coming soon in the next E-Newsletter.

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.