Join the APRHF Rail Rangers on Saturday, September 22nd for a Dome Car Ride: Chicago to Quincy, IL Roundtrip in a Day

The American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation’s Rail Rangers program will once again be teaming up with Zephyr Route Tours to present an onboard educational program for passengers aboard a historic 1950’s dome car round-trip between Chicago and Quincy, Illinois. Mark your calendar for Saturday, September 22nd, 2018. With Amtrak putting more and more restrictions on private car movements earlier this year — this is something that you should take full advantage of while you still can!

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The excursion’s feature car will be the Milwaukee Road Super Dome #53, one of the ‘premium class’ cars owned by the Friends of the 261 organization. “A new outlook on happy travel” boosted the Milwaukee Road, with their first end-to-end dome cars built for any railroad. Built for the Milwaukee Road by Pullman Standard in 1952 as Super Dome 53, it is one of 10 ever built and is the heaviest passenger car ever built, weighing in at 104 tons. With over 85 feet of glass to look out on either side, you are sure to not miss a thing during the 500-mile trek across the nation’s breadbasket.

The journey departs Chicago Union Station shortly after 7:30am and returns just before 10:00pm. In the afternoon, passengers will have approximately three to four hours to enjoy the sights and sounds of Mark Twain’s Hometown of Hannibal, Missouri. A motorcoach transfer from Quincy to Hannibal is included in the package price; a riverboat ride on the Mississippi River is available for an extra $18 (highly recommended!). While on the train, enjoy freshly prepared meals each way.

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On the westbound journey, you’ll learn interesting stories about everything passing by outside your window from APRHF Rail Rangers Executive Director Robert Tabern, APRHF Rail Rangers Chicago Coordinator Kandace Tabern, and Interpretive Guide Dave Poole. Landmarks include the BNSF “Racetrack” through the Western Suburbs of Chicago, Aurora, the filming site of “Superman: Man of Steel” in Plano, the Cherry Mine Disaster (we’ll even bring a prop along!), the two “high bridges” west of Princeton, Galesburg, Macomb, a beautifully restored grain mill, and much more! We’ll even point out the hidden spot where you can actually see camels in a pen along the tracks. The APRHF Rail Rangers will even have a limited supply of their Chicago to Quincy, IL railroad route guidebooks available onboard for a $15 donation to our 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Your support helps pays for the research, handouts, and other costs of doing our programs. Enjoy casual conversation and one-on-one interactions with Interpretive Guide Poole on the eastbound trip.

Passengers may board the excursion in Downtown Chicago at Union Station (departure 7:37am, return 9:51pm), in the western suburbs at Naperville (departure 8:12am, return 9:03am), or out in Princeton (departure 9:23am, return 7:48pm). Please inquire with Zephyr Route directly about the possibilities of accessing the excursion at other stops along the route.

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Price is $349 per person for Chicago and Naperville bookings; $199 for Princeton, IL bookings. For more information and to purchase your tickets, contact Zephyr Route tours directly at zephyr360@att.net or (630) 542-3607.

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.