Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #47 – 8/01/22 – Track Work to Impact Upcoming Rail Rangers South Shore Programs

Monday, August 1, 2022

We hope everyone has been having a fun and memorable summer… but can it really be August already?

Our partners at the NICTD/South Shore Line have been working very hard over the past year  to improve their rail line between Chicago and South Bend. When this project is complete in 2024, there will be long stretches of double track, faster and more reliable service, and a much smoother ride. The Midwest Rail Rangers… along with many South Shore Line riders… are looking forward to the completion of this major construction project in a couple of years.

In order for all of the above benefits to become a reality though, there will have to be some temporary “growing pains”.

Since March 1, 2022, the South Shore Line has been bussing passengers between the Dune Park Station and the Michigan City – Carroll Avenue Station. This has resulted in the Midwest Rail Rangers temporarily scaling back our onboard education programs to operate only between Chicago – Millennium Station and Dune Park (roundtrip) this spring and early summer.

Under normal times, our Interpretive Guides on the South Shore Line “turn” much farther east at either Michigan City-Carroll Avenue or South Bend-Airport Station.

The South Shore Line reconstruction project will enter one of its most intense phases staring in about two weeks. On or about August 15, 2022, South Shore Line passengers will be bussed between Gary and Michigan City. The temporary closure of the rail line is expected to last through Spring 2023. As a result, most upcoming Midwest Rail Rangers onboard education programs on the South Shore Line will only operate from Chicago-Millennium Station to Gary-Metro Station.

Midwest Rail Rangers President Robert Tabern explains, “Sure… on the surface we are disappointed our onboard programs will only operate a short distance between Chicago and Gary this late summer, fall, and winter period. However, we have been partners with the South Shore for over five years now… and hope to continue the partnership for many years to come. Our eyes are on the long-term… improvements for passengers equal many improvements for our talks, too. We look forward to returning to present our regular longer programs to Dune Park, Michigan City, and South Bend when we can… but for the months ahead… we are appreciate of South Shore Line management letting us do programs through to Gary. It makes the most sense not to have Guides aboard buses on a regular basis.”

Neither the Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors, nor the management at NICTD, wanted to suspend onboard ]programs on the South Shore Line during the upcoming construction… especially since programs had to be put on hold for 15 months (March 2020 to July 2021) due to COVID-19.

Planned upcoming South Shore Line Midwest Rail Rangers programs from August 1 to December 31, 2022, are available at:

www.railrangers.org

(click on the “Upcoming Programs” tab)

Bob Neil, Midwest Rail Rangers VP adds, “Besides most South Shore onboard educational programs operating between only Chicago and Gary due to the bussing situation… passengers may notice some other changes in this year’s late summer, fall, and early winter schedule. Our Guides will return to doing occasional weekend programs. We brought back Saturday and Sunday dates at the request of our supporters who wanted both weekday and weekend options. We will also be experimenting by offering some onboard educational programs on later trains. Instead of always leaving Downtown Chicago at 8:40am/8:45am, we will be offering some departures in the late morning and even early afternoon now. We will so how popular this ends up being and factor that in to our 2023 schedules. As always, we do not do programs on ‘peak trains’ during the rush hour… as commuters are not our target audience.”

Due to the changes mentioned above, those who plan to join the Rail Rangers on the South Shore Line in the coming months are encouraged to verify dates and which trains that our Interpretive Guides will be on. Those coming out to experience our programs are also encouraged to re-check the website a few days before the trip to verify there have not been any additional changes. Sometimes last-minute changes to program dates could result due to unexpected changes in bussing and construction activities.

Flexibility will be key in the months ahead… but again…we look forward to a much improved railroad and expanded programs returning when possible.

Oh, and yes… an important “SAVE THE DATE”…  Join Midwest Rail Rangers President Robert Tabern and Midwest Rail Rangers Treasurer Kandace Tabern as they give an hour-long talk at the Indiana Dunes National Park.  The Taberns will speak at 7:00PM CDT on Saturday, September 10, 2022 at the IDNP Visitor Center (1215 N State Rd 49, Porter, IN 46304) about their recent experiences visiting all 423 units of the National Park Service and their volunteer work on the South Shore doing the Rail Rangers program. There is no cost and no RSVP is needed. We will have additional information on this in our September 2022 e-Newsletter, but hope you will consider adding this event to your busy summer calendar now.

Sincerely,

The Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

Robert Tabern, President

Bob Neil, Vice President

Kandace Tabern, Treasurer

Michael Pace, Secretary

Interpretive Guides:

Kathy Bruecker, Fred Glure, Joe Kuczynski and Lowell Olberg

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #46 – 7/05/22 – Sundays in the Sky at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad

Monday, July 5, 2022 

So far this spring and summer, hundreds of passengers have already enjoyed programs presented by the Midwest Rail Rangers aboard the Sky Parlour Car at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad in Trego, Wisconsin. 

Paid passengers who purchase tickets for the Wisconsin Great Northern’s Wine & Cheese Train ($50/per person) get to watch an exclusive nine minute movie about the history of the former Santa Fe Hi-Level Lounge Car / former Amtrak Pacific Parlour Car that was produced in cooperation with the Midwest Rail Rangers. It is shown in the lower level of the car, which was the former Kachina Coffee Shop. The Midwest Rail Rangers also have numerous historical photos and displays for passengers to enjoy aboard the upper level of the car. Also, history books about the car, written by the Midwest Rail Rangers, are for sale onboard and in the Wisconsin Great Northern gift shop for $20 each. 

Select trips may feature a Midwest Rail Rangers docent aboard, too. 

The Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad has been partners with the Midwest Rail Rangers since Fall 2019.

“The sweeping views you get from several points on the train… along with the tasty wine and delicious artisan cheese… and just the fun laid-back small group atmosphere of the train really adds up to a special one-of-a-kind experience”, says Harold Silverstein, who recently make the five-hour drive from Chicago to take the Wisconsin Great Northern’s Wine and Cheese Train.

“The Wine and Cheese Train has something to offer for everyone”, explains Wisconsin Great Northern’s Director of Passenger Development. “We have a cross-section of passengers aboard each week. This includes local couples looking for something fun to do on a Sunday afternoon… and day trippers from the Twin Cities, Duluth, Eau Claire, and other areas. It is also becoming a popular must-do ‘girls’ weekend’ activity up here in the Northwoods.”

The Wine and Cheese Train car is unique, in that it has seating on two levels. The top features a double row of windows for outstanding sightseeing; the bottom serves as a rebuilt as a 20-seat movie theater on wheels.

This train car was even featured in several movies and television programs over the years.

Wisconsin Great Northern’s Wine and Cheese Train operates every Sunday at 11:00am and 2:00pm through October 30th. Tickets are $50 per person and are available at www.SpoonerTrainRide.com, or by calling (715) 635-3200. Advanced reservations are required and seating is limited. It is highly recommended that passengers book now for the anticipated busy ‘fall color trips’ ahead in September and October.

Sincerely,
The Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

Robert Tabern, President
Bob Neil, Vice President
Kandace Tabern, Treasurer
Michael Pace, Secretary
Interpretive Guides:
Kathy Bruecker, Fred Glure, Joe Kuczynski and Lowell Olberg

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #45 – 6/06/22 – 20th Century Partnership Trips to Galena, Lake Geneva & East Troy This Summer

Monday, June 6, 2022

We are pleased to announce that the Midwest Rail Rangers will partner with the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago on two additional trips later this year.

Here’s the details:

TRIP #22-D

Saturday, August 27, 2022

East Troy & Lake Geneva Trip

Board a motor coach with friends and family to take you to enjoy the East Troy Electric Railroad Museum and a vintage trolley ride, then move on to a pleasure cruise aboard one of Lake Geneva’s sightseeing vessels for a journey around the shoreline of Lake Geneva. Includes: Roundtrip Motorcoach, Admissions, Boat Ride and Box Lunch.

For fares and more information about this trip… click here!

TRIP #22-E

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Galena Country Fair Trip

Considered one of Galena’s most popular events, Galena Country Fair features more than 150 art, craft and fine art vendors selling high quality, original, handmade items. There will be food vendors offering chicken and pork chop sandwiches, baked potatoes, brats, tacos, caramel apples, homemade fudge, sundaes, and more. There is also a selection of domestic and local craft beers, plus a Gazebo Wine Garden serving Galena Cellars, white, red, sangria and more. For entertainment, there will be live music, Irish Dance performances, silent auction, raffle and more.

For fares and more information about this trip… click here!

Please note that these are mainly motor coach trips, however both excursions will feature Midwest Rail Rangers Interpretive Guides aboard. Reservations are handled exclusively by the 20th Century Railroad Club. Please DO NOT contact the Midwest Rail Rangers to make reservations for these trips, as we are not handling ticketing or reservations.

Meanwhile… we also look forward to seeing you aboard our South Shore Line program excursions this year, too, between Downtown Chicago and Dune Park. Upcoming program dates are: June 14, June 23, July 12, July 21, August 2, and August 25. Learn about the interesting landmarks on the South Side of Chicago and in Northwest Indiana. These programs are co-sponsored by the Indiana Dunes State Park and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

We will also be presenting programs at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad every Sunday between now and October 2nd. Paid passengers with valid tickets/reservations ($50 per person) on the Sunday 11AM & 2PM Wine & Cheese Train will get to watch an exclusive nine-minute movie about the railroad’s Sky Parlour Car produced by the Midwest Rail Rangers. Passengers will also have the chance to view a historical exhibit and scrapbook about the history of the car… which once served as a Hi-Level Lounge on the Santa Fe and on Amtrak as a Pacific Parlour Car. The Midwest Rail Rangers has been partners with the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad in Trego, WI since 2019.

There is so much going on with the Rail Rangers this summer — and we want you to be part of the fun — whether that is a 20th Century Railroad Club Trip, our regular South Shore programs, the Sky Parlour programs in Northwestern Wisconsin, or our virtual programs and more.

Have a great June!

Sincerely,

The Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

Robert Tabern, President

Bob Neil, Vice President

Kandace Tabern, Treasurer

Michael Pace, Secretary

Interpretive Guides:

Kathy Bruecker, Fred Glure, Joe Kuczynski and Lowell Olberg

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #44 – 5/09/22 – Rail Rangers Share History at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad

Monday, May 9, 2022

For the first time in 26 months… the Wisconsin Great Northern, a tourist railroad in Northwest Wisconsin that partners with the Midwest Rail Rangers, is resuming passenger train operations later this week.

Paid ticket holders for the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad’s Wine & Cheese Train will have the opportunity to view an exclusive new nine-minute movie that was produced in cooperation with the Midwest Rail Rangers. It covers the history of the 1956 double-decker lounge car that was used on the Santa Fe’s El Capitan train and on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight as a Pacific Parlour Car… but now hosts wine and cheese tastings at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad. The movie will be shown before trips depart in the lower-level movie theater section of the car that once housed the historic Santa Fe Kachina Coffee Shop.

The Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad is the only place in the country offering regular weekly trips on any of the six former Amtrak Pacific Parlour Cars. Two other cars are located in Texas and two others are in Michigan; however, they are currently only used by those railroads around the Christmas holidays. A fifth car has remained parked in a train yard outside of St. Louis for nearly 20 years and is not in operable condition.

Ticket holders for the Wine & Cheese Train at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad will also have the opportunity to flip through a historical scrapbook aboard the car (pictured above) that was assembled by the Midwest Rail Rangers. It is truly one-of-a-kind and features many original papers and photographs from the 66-year history of the car.

Select trips later in 2022 may also feature a Midwest Rail Rangers Interpretive Guide to further enhance passengers’ trips. You may recall that our Guides rode along on several trips aboard the car and held an “open house event” in Fall 2019, prior to the COVID-19 passenger train shutdown.

Those who are interested in the history of the car will also have the opportunity to purchase a copy of the Midwest Rail Rangers’ Sky Parlour book, which was published in Fall 2019. The railroad will be selling copies of the book for $20 onboard both the train and in the depot gift shop (located at N6639 Dilly Lake Road in Trego, Wisconsin).

Speaking of books, the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad’s gift shop also reopens tomorrow and will once again be the exclusive physical retail location of the Midwest Rail Rangers’ popular Outside the Rails railroad route guidebooks. Stop by during their regular business hours and purchase a book to learn more about a particular train route in the Midwest. It will enhance your trip so much more to know about everything out your window. We will also be selling our Junior Rail Rangers books in the gift shop.

There is a lot of excitement going on at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad!

To participate, click below to purchase your tickets from the WGNRR… seats are only $50 per person and include a two-hour train ride, plus four different kinds of Wisconsin wine… plus some great cheese and more. Trips will take place Sundays at 11:00AM and 2:00PM between May 15th and October 30th.

https://spoonertrainride.com/train-rides/sky-parlour-wine-cheese-train/

We are proud to once again have the opportunity to share the history with the passengers at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad. Be sure to check out their other trains, too, including the popular Bed & Breakfast Train, Dinner Train, Family Pizza Train, Santa Trains, and restoration of the Mark Twain Zephyr.

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #43 – 4/02/22 – Summer 2022 Schedules for 20th Century & South Shore; Join us Next Weekend in Green Bay

Saturday, April 2, 2022

As the warm weather slowly begins to arrive, things are once again picking up for the Midwest Rail Rangers… as we roll into our 8th Season of doing onboard educational programs. We are happy to announce our 20th Century Railroad Club and South Shore Line partner Spring/Summer 2022 schedules are approved and ready for release. We also would like to invite you to visit our booth next weekend at a train show in Green Bay.

Let’s start with the 20th Century Railroad Club trips. For 51 years now, the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago has been offering fun and exciting rail or motor coach trips for both its members and the general public. The Midwest Rail Rangers have had a partnership with the 20th Century for the past 5 years, where we either staff their trips with an Interpretive Guides who provides narration… and/or we provide route guide handouts for passengers.

This year will be once again be no exception… as the 20th Century returns to doing its popular trips following a two-year hiatus. The first trip takes place on Saturday, May 14, 2022 and is called the “Indiana Doubleheader” and will feature a visit to the Hoosier Valley RR Museum and the Monon Connection Museum. Midwest Rail Rangers Vice President Robert Neil will be your Rail Rangers Guide for the day. The second trip takes place on Saturday, June 25, 2022 and will take passengers to Galesburg Railroad Days. This year, you will have an option to head directly to Galesburg… or take a tour of three historic railroad towns and depots. The Midwest Rail Rangers will be providing handout route guides for passengers on this trip. Finally, the third trip is three days / two nights and runs from Friday, July 15, 2022 to Sunday, July 17, 2022. We will ride the Boone & Scenic Railway, visit the Amana Colonies and the Threshers Heritage Museum. The Midwest Rail Rangers will be providing handout route guides for passengers on this trip, too. Links to more information about the tours can be found below. The 20th Century Railroad Club is a valuable partner of the Midwest Rail Rangers and we look forward to making memories for passengers together for years to come.

As mentioned, late spring and summer 2022 dates for Midwest Rail Rangers programs on the South Shore Line have been approved. Our next three program dates are below. Our complete schedule through August is available on our website, www.railrangers.org. Due to ongoing track work this summer, our South Shore Line programs will ONLY operate from Downtown Chicago to Dune Park… and then from Dune Park back to Downtown Chicago. We will be using eastbound Train #7, which departs Chicago-Millennium Station at 8:45am and arrives in Dune Park at 10:03am. Guides will hold an informal “open house” at the Dune Park station from 10:15am to 11:00am. We will then be using westbound Train #116, which departs Dune Park at 11:13am, and arrives back in Chicago at 12:39pm. Looking ahead, at this point we plan to resume through programs to Michigan City and South Bend between November 2022 and February 2023. When track work picks up again next year and bussing is anticipated to be extended, we will do a mix of shorter and longer programs depending on the season. Because construction work can be quite fluid, it is recommended that riders who specifically plan on traveling to hear our programs always check our website a few days before the trip to make sure there are not any last minute schedule changes.

Finally, we hope you will join us next weekend for one of our last outreach events of the winter season. The Midwest Rail Rangers will have its own booth for the first time at the Titletown Train Show at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Come out from 9am-5pm on Saturday, April 9th… or 9am-4pm on Sunday, April 10th. We will have Interpretive Guides available to talk to you about the many interesting parts of our onboard educational programs. We will also have samples of our popular railroad route guide books which you can then purchase online (get them ahead of your summer trips!)

We love being busy… and hope you will be part of our exciting summer season!

Oh, and don’t forget to watch our newest online virtual program tomorrow night (Sunday, April 3) at 7:00pm CT… we are sharing the second part of our ride on the Texas Eagle from Los Angeles to St. Louis. Here’s the link you will need:

Sincerely,

Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

Robert Tabern – President

Bob Neil – Vice-President

Kandace Tabern – Treasurer & Educational Officer

Michael Pace – Secretary

Interpretive Guides:

Kathy Bruecker, Fred Glure, Joe Kuczynski, Lowell Olberg & Steve Snyder

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #42 – 3/10/22 – South Shore Track Work Changes 2022 Midwest Rail Rangers Programs

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Happy March!

In case you haven’t heard… “street running” in Michigan City, Indiana on the South Shore Line is officially a thing of the past. Midwest Rail Rangers Vice President Bob Neil ended up hosting our last onboard educational program on the South Shore that featured “street running” at the end of February.

At one time, the South Shore also operated on local roadways in East Chicago and South Bend, too. However, that was eliminated in the 1950s and 1970s respectively. The “street running” on the South Shore Line down 10th and 11th Street in Michigan City is being cut to speed up service between Chicago and South Bend. While most everyone welcomes the quicker time-keeping, a piece of history is also being lost unfortunately. The South Shore Line has been called ‘America’s Last Interurban Railroad’ due to the street running in Michigan City.

The on-going track work for this project will also have a big impact on those who ride the South Shore Line during the months ahead. According to NICTD, which operates the South Shore Line, ALL passengers on ALL trains will be bussed between the Dune Park Station and the Michigan City-Carroll Avenue Station. This will allow for the building of the new track, just off the street, through significant portions of Michigan City. This bussing will last through Fall 2022.

After much consultation with NICTD, the Midwest Rail Rangers Board has decided that our onboard educational programs will only operate between Chicago and the Dune Park Station this spring, summer, and fall.

Midwest Rail Rangers President Robert Tabern explains, “The seats on the bus between Dune Park and Michigan City should be for paid passengers… and we would not do narration on a bus anyway… so until through trains resume this fall… our programs will be from Downtown Chicago to Dune Park and back. We look forward to returning back to our longer program schedule to Michigan City and South Bend in seven or eight months from now. We very much appreciate the NICTD allowing us to continue to do our onboard educational programs on the train when so many other components going on right now with the busing.”

One of the positive things of the temporary schedule is it will allow Midwest Rail Rangers Interpretive Guides to have an informal “meet and greet” with people at the Dune Park Station from 10:15am to 11:00am on days the programs will be given. Even people who do not ride the train can come out to the train station located near U.S. 12 and Indiana Highway 49 and meet the Rail Rangers and learn more about the programs on the train.

The Midwest Rail Rangers’ South Shore Line schedule in March and April has been adjusted (see below). Our May through August schedule will be posted in a few weeks from now. Programs will be presented mainly on weekdays this spring, summer, and fall… until programs resume to Michigan City/South Bend.

Sincerely,

Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors

Robert Tabern – President

Bob Neil – Vice-President

Kandace Tabern – Treasurer & Educational Officer

Michael Pace – Secretary

Interpretive Guides:

Kathy Bruecker, Fred Glure, Joe Kuczynski, Lowell Olberg & Steve Snyder

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #41 – 2/05/22 – 2022 Outreach Events Planned

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Happy February!

We wanted to remind you that our onboard educational programs on the South Shore Line continue year-round. So, if you are looking for something fun to do over this winter… come out and ride with our Interpretive Guides between Chicago and Michigan City or South Bend. It’s a very economical thing to do… and you will learn so much about the people, place, history, and more.

Our next programs take place on Thursday, February 9, 2022. We will be on westbound South Shore Train #7, which departs Chicago-Millennium Station at 8:45am CT. We will also be on eastbound South Shore Train #116, which departs Michigan City-Carroll Avenue Station at 10:55am CT.

You can also join us on Saturday, February 26, 2022. We will be on westbound South Shore Train #503, which departs Chicago-Millennium Station at 8:40am CT. We will also be on eastbound South Shore Train #506, which departs South Bend-Airport Station at 1:05pm ET.

Our Interpretive Guides will also be doing a “meet and greet” with the public at the MadCity Train Show in Madison, Wisconsin. Join us at the Alliant Energy Center from 9:00am to 5:00pm CT on Saturday, February 19, 2022… and from 9:00am to 4:00pm CT on Sunday, February 20, 2022. Browse through some of our railroad route guides, which you will be able to purchase online.

Finally… we would like to welcome Michael Pace to the Midwest Rail Rangers Board of Directors. He was elected to a two-year term as Secretary. Michael will be a wonderful asset to the MRR Board. He had ridden on almost every mile of the Amtrak and VIA Rail systems and enjoyed riding the rails in Japan back in March 2020. Michael has been a supporter of the Midwest Rail Rangers, too, since the program was founded in 2015… riding many times aboard the South Shore Line and on the organization’s partner private rail excursions. Michael has spent most of his working life as an electrician in Massachusetts… and has even helped with the repairs of our speaker systems on occasion.

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #40 – 1/23/22 – Winter is a Great Time to Ride on the South Shore Line

Sunday, January 23, 2022

With the holidays now behind us — and the grips of winter here… it can be quite a challenge to find something interesting to do. How about a ride with the Rail Rangers on the South Shore Line? One of our goals when establishing the program almost five years ago was to be able to present our popular onboard educational talks year-round. And the South Shore was a perfect fit for this… as the route between Chicago and Michigan City/South Bend is truly beautiful ANYTIME of the year! 

Our next programs will be Thursday, February 12, 2022 and Saturday, February 26, 2022. We look forward to seeing you then!

Several community magazines in Northwest Indiana recently featured a great article about he Midwest Rail Rangers. If you haven’t had a chance to see a copy, we decided to include it as part of our monthly e-Newsletter.

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #39 – 12/16/21 – Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from the Midwest Rail Rangers

Thursday, December 16, 2021

It’s hard to believe… but Christmas is now just nine days away… and we will be rolling into 2022 in just over two weeks from now. With that… we dedicate this portion of our e-Newsletter to a quick “look back” at the year that was — 2021.


First, we want to thank you for your continued support of the Midwest Rail Rangers through the early part of COVID-19 pandemic. In the end, we were off trains for a period of nearly 16 months. This time last year you may recall we weren’t sure if we would even be back on at all in 2021. There were days we thought about throwing in the towel on our onboard Interpretive Programs… however we put in too much effort… and received too much encouragement and positive feedback from you, our passengers, to actually do something like that.

2021 will be remember by the Midwest Rail Rangers as the year we returned to doing our regularly scheduled programs on the South Shore; this happened on July 1, 2021. We have done multiple runs over the past six months between Chicago and Michigan City and South Bend. We are happy to report a lot more passengers riding with us thanks to the Indiana Dunes State Park promoting our programs on their website and through a poster at the Dune Park South Shore Line station. Starting this summer our onboard talks on the South Shore Line are an official interpretive program of the Indiana Dunes State Park. This is a win-win partnership for both the Rail Rangers and the State Park, as our guides receive extra training from the Indiana Dunes professional staff… while the state parks gets to count our volunteer hours in their totals. We look forward to working even closer with the Indiana Dunes SP in the year ahead… including attending additional training sessions and getting advice on enhancing our programs aboard the South Shore even more.

We also returned to doing private railcar programs in July 2021… which is what started up the Midwest Rail Rangers in the first place, circa July 2015. We performed multiple trips during the last week of July between St. Louis and Kansas City. Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer private cars operating in the Midwest, but we will seek out and provide programs aboard when possible.

Our outreach events also continued in 2021. Three of our Interpretive Guides helped to work an “open house” event at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad for the Mark Twain Zephyr over Memorial Day weekend. Between 600 and 700 people showed up and toured the partially restored trainset. We look forward to having our Guides back up at the WGNRR in 2022, as it appears passenger operations is likely to resume (more on this in future e-Newsletters!).  We also had two Guides attend a train show in Green Bay this year for the first time. Unfortunately, Milwaukee’s Trainfest was cancelled for the second year in a row… but seems to possibly be returning next year. We are already signed up to attend train shows in Madison (February) and Green Bay (April) in 2022… so there will be plenty of time to catch us at various outreach events.

We also resumed our onboard educational programs with the 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago, who reserves space or charters various Amtrak equipment for short trips. In September, one of our Guides headed to Indiana and Michigan with the group. The following month, another one of our  Guides took an excursion to Springfield, Illinois. As many as five excursions are in the possible works for 2022 with the 20th Century Railroad Club. We will also have more details about this in future E-newsletters as their plans progress.

Our “Rail Rangers on the Road” virtual programs have also continued to grow this year. Through the entire year of 2021 we provided two virtual programs per month for people to enjoy. Starting in March 2022, we will be cutting our virtual programs back to one per month… in order for our Board and the hosts to focus more on our in-person programming. “Rail Rangers on the Road” programming will air the first Sunday night of every month at 7:00pm Central Time. You can also watch the programs “on demand” after they debut.

You can watch our 2021 Christmas Special on Sunday night (December 19th) at 7:00pm Central Time. We will take you to Owosso, Michigan for a ride on their Pere Marquette Parlour Cars (former Amtrak Pacific Parlour Cars) which will be pulled by the 1225 steam engine. This is part of their “North Pole Express” train.

Finally —- Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year to you, your family, and friends. We look forward to our adventures together in 2022.

(P.S. — Our offices will be closed between December 19, 2021 and January 4, 2022 in order to allow our Interpretive Guides to spend time with their families. There will be no programs offered during this period, e-mails and phone calls received will be returned in the New Year, as well as any book orders received.)

Roundhouse Newsletter Edition #38 – 11/21/2021: Midwest Rail Rangers Announce Winter/Spring 2021-22 South Shore Schedule

Sunday, November 21, 2021

The Midwest Rail Rangers Board and Interpretive Guides would like to wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!  We are VERY thankful for all of you who attend our programs, buy our railroad route guide books, and make donations to keep us rolling. We are also thankful to our wonderful partners such as the 20th Century Railroad Club, Indiana Dunes State Park, NICTD/South Shore Line, Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad, Zephyr Route Tours, Paxrail, Friends of the 261, and our many other private rail groups that we have and will continue to work with.

This year we are EXTRA thankful to have been able to resume our onboard educational programs after quite a long hiatus during the start of COVID-19.  Last year at this time, we didn’t know if or when we would be able to see you again. However, we got rolling mid-year… returning to an outreach event in Green Bay over the summer… resuming several South Shore Line trips per month starting in July… having a series of private car trips between St. Louis and Kansas City – also in July… and going on two trips with the 20th Century Railroad Club in September and October.

2022 plans for the Midwest Rail Rangers are already in the works… and we look forward to a lot of exciting adventures together.

Over the upcoming winter… our popular onboard educational programs on the South Shore Line will be our focus.

Join us on any of these dates:

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Thursday trips will operate roundtrip on the South Shore  Line between Chicago and Michigan City, Indiana.  Saturday trips will operate on the South Shore Line between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana. More details below and on our website.  Hope to see you enjoying the Indiana Dunes by train this winter!

AND… We look forward to seeing everyone on Saturday, December 4th at the Friends of the 261 North Pole Express Train in St. Paul, Minnesota! We will have Midwest Rail Rangers Guides on their 10:00AM, 11:30AM, and 1:00PM departures serving as car hosts. We did receive some calls about this… and want to report that all tickets for this day are SOLD OUT already.  But, we look forward to seeing all of those who were lucky enough to get tickets.

ALSO… Are you or someone you know planning an Amtrak trip in 2022? Please consider purchasing one of our railroad route guidebooks as a Christmas gift! Information is below. This way you can “take us with you”… knowing about everything outside your window. We have traditional book formats for most Amtrak long distance routes… as well as e-books.  Some sections even have MP3 podcasts available. Details below. Not only will you have a fun and unique gift… but your purchase helps to support the Midwest Rail Rangers.