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APRHF Rail Rangers: Fall 2017 Update

Explore Fall Foliage with the APRHF Rail Rangers

Join us for an onboard educational program in the Upper Midwest

By Robert & Kandace Tabern, Email:

Published: October 6, 2017

It’s beginning to get colder outside and the leaves on the trees outside are changing from summer green to the brilliant yellows and reds of autumn. That means it’s the perfect time for a train ride before the busy holiday season is here before you know it. And what better way to ride a train than with the APRHF Rail Rangers… where you can learn about the sites outside your window. During the month of October, the APRHF Rail Rangers will be presenting onboard educational programs through no less than four states in the Upper Midwest.


Three APRHF Rail Rangers Interpretive Guides will be aboard the Zephyr Route private rail excursion that will take place between Chicago, Milwaukee, and the Twin Cities between October 13th and October 15th. Two private cars will be placed on the back of Amtrak’s westbound Empire Builder on Friday, October 13th through Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Passengers will have the entire day on Saturday, October 14th to explore around the Twin Cities, including the Mall of America and other sites. Then, the private cars will be placed back on Amtrak’s eastbound Empire Builder train on Sunday, October 15th for the 410-mile return journey. Those aboard will be treated to beautiful fall colors in the urban Chicago-Milwaukee corridor, through the Driftless Area of Central Wisconsin, and along the Mississippi River in Minnesota. Making the journey will be CB&Q observation cars Silver Lariat and Silver Solarium.  This excursion has unfortunately been SOLD OUT for several months now. Be sure to keep watching the Rail Rangers’ website ( if you wish to be part of this trip in 2018. We anticipate dates to be chosen and tickets to go on sale around February or March 2018.

Silver Solarium will be featured on a private rail car trip hosted by Zephyr Route Tours and the APRHF Rail Rangers later this month

The interior of Silver Solarium; the car will run between Chicago and St. Paul on October 13th and October 15th

You can still join the APRHF Rail Rangers and enjoy the season’s colors by participating in one of their excursions on the South Shore Line. In case you haven’t heard — the APRHF and the South Shore Line have joined forces to educate passengers about what they are seeing out their window through Chicago and Northwest Indiana. Our Interpretive Guides will be on select weekend departures of the South Shore Line round-trip between Chicago-Millenium Station and South Bend-Airport Station. Upcoming programs are slated for October 6, October 21, November 18, and November 26.  Guides leave Chicago on the 8:40am CT train and arrive in South Bend at 12:10pm ET.  After a brief layover, guides will present a similar program for westbound passengers on the train that leaves South Bend at 1:05pm ET and arrives back in Chicago at 2:40pm CT. Narration will take place in one designated car (usually towards the middle of the train).  The train line between Chicago and South Bend passes through or near four units of the National Park Service — including the Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor, Pullman National Monument, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and the Kankakee River National Water Trail.  Enjoy varied landscapes during the 2.5 hour train journey — as we move from the skyscrapers of Downtown Chicago to the historic steel-mill region near Gary to the Indiana Dunes and finally the farm lands of La Porte and St. Joseph Counties.

The best part is the program is FREE once your paid the standard fare for your South Shore Line ticket. Seating in the Rail Rangers car is on a first come, first serve basis only; we are not able to reserve seats for people in advance.

Guides with the APRHF Rail Rangers program will be aboard the South Shore Line on select weekends this fall and winter

APRHF Rail Rangers Chicago Coordinator Kandace Tabern swears in three new Junior Rail Rangers aboard the South Shore Line

APRHF Rail Rangers Executive Director Robert Tabern narrates to passengers on the South Shore Line

Lead Interpretive Guide Robert Neil (right) is seen here training new APRHF Rail Rangers guide Roger Dart (left)

Finally, an APRHF Rail Ranger guide will be aboard the 20th Century Railroad Club’s Amtrak coach charter between Chicago and Springfield, Illinois on Saturday, November 11th. Learn about such interesting landmarks as Route 66, coal mining in Illinois, and our 16th President Abraham Lincoln. More details on this trip, including possible ticket availability, can be found on the 20th Century Railroad Club’s website at

You can also mark your calendars for two special outreach programs that will also take place during this time period.  Guides with the APRHF Rail Rangers will be giving a one-hour presentation at the Morton Grove Public Library in suburban Chicago at 11:00am on Saturday, October 21st.  Learn how the Rail Rangers was formed, the connection between railroads and our national parks, plus more about our route guidebook series.  Then, join us on  Saturday, November 11th or Sunday, November 12th at Train Fest 2017 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. APRHF Rail Rangers volunteers will be on hand to talk with you about private railcars and out railroad route guidebooks. Special guests this year include APRHF President Bob Cox and APRHF Treasurer Amy Cox who will be bringing the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation’s layout to Trainfest for the first time.  Be sure to check out for more details.  You can even register to attend two special lectures being put on by APRHF Vice President Robert Tabern and APRHF Secretary Kandace Tabern. The duo will speak on November 11th at 2:00pm about writing railroad route guidebooks and on November 12th at 1:00pm about private railcars that have made recent appearances in the Midwest.  You must pre-register for these clinics on the Trainfest website.

The APRHF Rail Rangers present several outreach programs every year across the Upper Midwest; seen here in Galesburg, IL in November 2015

Lead Interpretive Guide Robert Neil (right) talks with an attendee (left) at Trainfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in November 2016

APRHF Rail Rangers Executive Director Robert Tabern uses a mule show to talk about the Cherry Hill Mine Diasaster of 1909

The APRHF Rail Rangers sell railroad route guides written by its members at Trainfest in Milwaukee

It’s a busy October and November for the Rail Rangers — and we hope you can be part of our fall!

And don’t forget — we will be getting together in late November with several of our private rail partners to discuss 2018 trip ideas. If you have a great idea for a destination — drop us an e-mail at before November 20th.

We also had to recently purchase a new wireless speaker system for over $1,000.  If you are interesting in making a donation to help off-set the costs involved with this, please e-mail You can also purchase a railroad route guidebook at or – with monies going towards the new speaker system.

Several additional trips are currently in the planning phase and will be announced later. For more information about the APRHF Rail Rangers program, you can contact Executive Director Robert Tabern by e-mail at The APRHF Rail Rangers is primarily funded by donations from passengers and our own Interpretive Guides, plus through the sale of rail route guidebooks through our website at


South Shore Line Website |  APRHF Rail Rangers Website |  Zephyr Route Website


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