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Midwest Rail Rangers on -- Trip Reports & More!


Would you ever watch a program on the Travel Channel or History Channel with the audio turned down? Your answer to that question is probably a resounding "no". So, why would you take a train ride somewhere and not know anything about all of the interesting people, place, and history passing by outside your window?  It's essentially the same thing if you think about it.

And... that is where the Midwest Rail Rangers come in.

We are an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Luck, Wisconsin that provides live on-board educational programs on regular departures of the South Shore Line (Chicago, Illinois to South Bend, Indiana)... special programs aboard the historic Nebraska Zephyr at the Illinois Railway Museum, aboard private rail excursions featuring heritage train cars... and at various outreach events such as train shows.

For those looking for a self-guided experience, our team of Interpretive Guides have produced a series of railroad route guide books, e-books, and podcasts covering Midwest and nation-wide passenger train routes.

Between June 2020 and June 2024, we also produced virutal education programs on YouTube called "Rail Rangers on the Road". We also participate in special assignment research projects on railroad history.

Here is a closer look at where you can find the Midwest Rail Rangers:

mainpage2019-2.jpgSOUTH SHORE LINE

Since 2017, the Midwest Rail Rangers have partnered with the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) to provide on-board programs to passengers year-round. Our Guides ride a round-trip between Downtown Chicago and South Bend, IN two times per month. Learn about the south side of Chicago, the steel-mill region of Northwest Indiana, the Indiana Dunes, and the "bread basket" region of La Porte and St. Joseph Counties. Our programs are co-sponsored by th Indiana Dunes State Park and Indiana Dunes National Park.


The Midwest Rail Rangers partnered with 20th Century Railroad Club of Chicago, who organized group charters aboard regularly-scheduled Amtrak trains and motor coaches. Our Interpretive Guides ride along and provide narration and handouts for passengers who are part of the group. Our Interpretive Guides have experience doing programs across a seven-state region across the Upper Midwest, including in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin.
Unfortunately, the 20th Century Railroad Club ended operations in early 2023.

mainpage2019-1.jpg PRIVATE RAIL EXCURSIONS

Experience what the true "Golden Age of Railroading" was about while riding on a private rail excursion featuring an observation car from the 1950's. The Midwest Rail Rangers partner with a number of different owners/operators of historic train cars, which operate on the back of regularly-scheduled Amtrak trains. Enjoy fine meals on a piece of rolling railroad history... all while enjoying fun and entertaining on-board educational programs provided by the Midwest Rail Rangers' experienced Interpretive Guides.

mainpage2019-4.jpgOUTREACH EVENTS

Feel free to join the Midwest Rail Rangers at off-the-train outreach events that are held at various venues year-round all across the Upper Midwest.  Our Interpretive Guides have made appearances at such events as Trainfest and MadCity Rail in Wisconsin.  The Midwest Rail Rangers also design custom presentations and book signings for special organizations and local libraries. As much as we enjoy being on the train, we feel it is equally important to encourage those who may never heard of us to come out and ride!


The Midwest Rail Rangersalso conduct in-depth research projects involving rail history. Our organization values railroad history and has spent several years researching and writing about unique passenger railroad cars, such as the Santa Fe Hi-Level Lounge Cars, Amtrak's last remaining dome car "Ocean View", and the CB&Q's Mark Twain Zephyr. The results of our research is shared through a series of free websites... as well as several books and even a DVD. You can check out: / /


If you are planning to take a train ride that is not set to feature our Midwest Rail Rangers Interpretive Guides... we still have a fun way for you to learn about everything. After many years of researching the various regional and long-distance train lines out of Chicago, we have published a detailed series of railroad route guides.  Editions of "Outside the Rails" are now available in traditional soft-cover book format,  as a PDF e-book, or an MP3 podcast. We also have partnered with another author to cover nation-wide routes!

Your purchase of a route guide book, e-book, or podcast helps support the 501(c)(3) non-profit Midwest Rail Rangers and our mission of educating passengers about the people, places, and history passing by outside their train window.

"Outside the Rails" Route Guides written by the Midwest Rail Rangers include:

Chicago to St. Louis --- Chicago to Carbondale --- Chicago to Milwaukee --- Chicago to Detroit/Pontiac

Indianapolis to Chicago --- Chicago to Kansas City --- Chicago to St. Paul --- Junior Rail Rangers

     Chicago to South Bend, IN (South Shore) --- Chicago to Quincy, IL --- Wisconsin Great Northern Sky Parlour

Mark Twain Zephyr: History, Restoration & Rebirth  -- Three Volume History Book Series and companion DVD


Of course you can find the Midwest Rail Rangers right here on, too! Robert Tabern, who co-founded the Midwest Rail Rangers program, is close friends with creators Steve Grande and Barbara Cepinko. Steve and Barbara have been staunch supporters of the Midwest Rail Rangers since its founding on July 20, 2015... and also believe that one's journey on the train is enhanced with fun and informative educational programs. TrainWeb has made the Taberns "featured authors".

If you scroll down a bit, you will find Robert Tabern's collection of articles over the years. Some have to do with the Midwest Rail Rangers program... others are trip reports from personal rail-related travel that he and various friends through the years have completed.

The Midwest Rail Rangers posted one story on TrainWeb almost every month from May 2014 thru June 2024.


Robert Tabern, Midwest Rail Rangers President   (e-mail:

It is really no surprise that Robert Tabern developed an enthusiasm for passenger train travel. After all, his father, Thomas, grew up in Bowling Green, Ohio along the New York Central main line; his mother, Rita, grew up along the busy Evanston Exprindex%20photos/CAM07888.jpgess CTA line in the northern suburbs of Chicago.

Robert was
born in August 1979 in Skokie, Illinois, a suburb located about ten miles north of Chicago. He spent his early years living in the Chicagoland area, including Morton Grove and Northbrook. While growing up, every summer included at least one or two long-distance Amtrak train trips for the Tabern family. Some of Robert's fondest memories include getting his own small slumber coach sleeping car room when going to Florida or Washington, D.C. Often times, young Robert would stay up half the night looking out his window at the small towns passing by in the darkness.
While attending Glenbrook North High School, Robert decided to pursue a career in the broadcasting industry. In August 1997, Robert moved 500 miles to the south, becoming a freshman at Arkansas State University. While there, he worked on-air and behind-the-scenes at a few small radio stations, including KASU-FM (Jonesboro, AR), KDRS-FM (Paragould, AR), and KLQZ-FM (Paragould, AR). Robert also worked as a television news producer/reporter, including three years at KAIT-TV, the ABC station in Jonesboro, Arkansas. For a short period of time when he lived in Arkansas, Robert lived in an apartment directly across from the Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, Amtrak depot and would often watch the Texas Eagle come and go in the middle of the night.

After graduating from Arkansas State University in December 2001, Robert moved to Indiana and served as the morning news producer at WKJG-TV, the then-NBC affiliate in Fort Wayne. Hoping to move even closer to his family in the Chicagoland area, Robert picked up stakes again in February 2003 and headed for Southeast Wisconsin. It was there he continued working in the broadcasting and communications field for nearly two decades, including time at WDJT-TV, the CBS station in Milwaukee, the City of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, WTMJ-TV, the NBC affiliate in Milwaukee, and a travel company called Country Travel DISCOVERIES, which specialized in off-the-beaten path railroad and motorcoach group tours.
In 2019, Robert moved about 350 miles north from the greater Milwaukee area to far Northwest Wisconsin. For two-and-a-half years, Robert served as the Director of Passenger Development for the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad near Spooner, Wisconsin. He worked there full-time to develop websites, museum pieces, brochures, books, and much more for the Mark Twain Zephyr and former Pacific Parlour Car owned by the organization.

2023robert.jpgRobert left the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad and went back into journalism in July 2022. He currently serves as Senior Editor of the Inter-County Leader newspaper, which covers stories in four counties in far Northwest Wisconsin, including Barron, Burnett, Polk, and Washburn. Robert currently lives in Luck, Wisconsin.

Robert also spends a significant amount of time managing the Midwest Rail Rangers, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which provides onboard educational programs. Robert currently serves as President of the Midwest Rail Rangers. To learn how you can ride along with Robert or one of the other Rail Rangers' Interpretive Guides, check out the Midwest Rail Rangers website at

Robert is also a published author... having researched, written, and published a series of more than one dozen different railroad route guidebooks, plus e-books, and podcasts.

When not on the rails, Robert loves to take road trips, explore state parks, and spending time in the great outdoors.
He really enjoys visiting units of the National Park Service. On December 26, 2021, Robert reached his life-long milestone travel goal of visiting all units of the NPS... an adventure that included all 50 states and even trips to Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa. Robert also loves country music and attending the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee whenever possible. When he stays closer to home, Robert enjoys attending wine tastings along Wisconsin's Wine Trail.


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Starting in 2020, we have turned our Blogs into "virtual video blogs" instead of written reports!  Enjoy!

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Midwest Rail Rangers: A 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Providing
Live On Board Educational Programs on Train Excursions   
The Midwest Rail Rangers Store
Books, PDF E-Books, MP3 Route Guide Podcasts & More from the Midwest Rail Rangers
History of Amtrak's Last Remaining Dome Car, "Ocean View"
History of Amtrak's former Pacific Parlour Cars on the Coast Starlight
History and Photos of Everything Lounge Car Related
More information about the Junior Rail Rangers Program
& our collection of over hundreds of Junior Ranger Badges/Patches
More information about the Mark Twain Zephyr
and the other famed CB&Q Zephyrs
Other Domains Currently For Sale!


(c)2014-2024 Midwest Rail Rangers Corporation
Post Office Box 615   Luck, Wisconsin  54853     Voice Mail Box:  (847) 271-1979
All material on this website is copyrighted by the Midwest Rail Rangers Corporation and may not be duplicated or copied without permission.