Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #29 — Rail Rangers Release Mark Twain Zephyr History Book / Website — February 11, 2021

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Thanks so much for continuing to follow the Midwest Rail Rangers. We are really hopeful for 2021 to be a “transition year”… where perhaps by this summer we can begin going back to our in-person onboard educational programs. Trust me… we are very eager to be back with you aboard doing narration… but we also have to be realistic and wait until our volunteers and rail partners feel the time is ready, too. Plus, we have to comply with state and even city restrictions on gatherings.. and wait until some of that changes. Each day hopefully we are getting closer to conquering COVID-19 as much as will be possible.

While we continue to work out the details on when our exact return dates will be to the South Shore Line, private rail excursions, Amtrak charters organized by the 20th Century Railroad Club, outreach events, and open house programs at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad — we do have some exciting news to share.

The last 11 months that we have NOT been doing our “traditional” onboard educational programs… has let us at the Midwest Rail Rangers have the extra time to further partner with the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad to write a series of history books about the Mark Twain Zephyr. As you probably know, if you follow us, the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad acquired the Mark Twain Zephyr train set (and a spare car from the Pioneer Zephyr) over the summer… and has been working non-stop over the fall and winter in restoring it to operating condition. If everything goes as planned… that could happen in late 2021.

The Midwest Rail Rangers already has helped out with the Wisconsin Great Northern’s October 24-25, 2020 Mark Twain Zephyr Open House Event. And, in the future, the Midwest Rail Rangers look forward to raising donations for the “Becky Thatcher” Museum Car… and having our Interpretive Guides available at more open house events and during special history weekends.

Midwest Rail Rangers President Robert Tabern and Midwest Rail Rangers Educational Coordinator Kandace Tabern were challenged by the owners of the Wisconsin Great Northern to compile as much information as they could on the Mark Twain Zephyr. The result? A three book series all about the history of this legendary CB&Q train set. The first two books of the series will be published on March 1, 2021… with the third book to be published in Spring 2022. The first book covers the development of the CB&Q Zephyrs, a look at some of the Mark Twain Zephyr’s sister shovel-nose trains, exclusive photos of the building of the MTZ in Philadelphia, and minute-by-minute coverage of the train’s dedication in Hannibal, MO on October 25, 1935. The second book covers the 23 years that the Mark Twain Zephyr spent as part of the Burlington Route. You’ll be surprised at how many times it was pulled off its “home route” from Burlington, Iowa to St. Louis, Missouri. Also included is the 60 years the Mark Twain Zephyr has been in private ownership. Plus, detailed plans for reconstruction at the Wisconsin Great Northern. The third book (again, not available until Spring 2022) will cover the transportation of train set up to Wisconsin, exclusive photos of the renovation process, and photographs of the ribbon cutting and first few public rides.

For the next 48 hours we have a special deep discount PRE-SALE going on just for supporters of the Midwest Rail Rangers who subscribe to our e-Newsletter. Prices will be going up on Sunday… so get your book now! Prices vary and you are able to get the book in 3 different versions — Hardcover Premium Color, All-Color Paperback, and digital PDF E-book — so choose the one that works best for you.

Head over to our new Mark Twain Zephyr Store at: to browse and make your purchase.

A portion of all sales goes toward the restoration of the Mark Twain Zephyr


      Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

      Robert Tabern, President

      Bob Neil, Vice President

      Dave Poole, Treasurer

      Kathy Bruecker, Secretary

      Kandace Tabern, Educational Officer

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #1: New Name & Look for 2019: APRHF Rail Rangers Become Midwest Rail Rangers


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 and


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.


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!


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

This will also be the final posting about the Rail Rangers program here on To follow the Rail Rangers, you will need to head to  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

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!

Robert & Kandace Tabern
APRHF Vice President & Secretary