New Display Being Built at APRHF Exhibition of Amtrak History

Bob Cox and Kandace Tabern are seen here working on the first layout of the new Trails & Rails Display.Kandace Tabern is seen here with Bob Cox on Tuesday, August 13, 2013, working on the new display being built to honor the history of the Trails & Rails program; progress can be seen by visiting APRHF’s Exhibition of Amtrak History in La Plata, Missouri.


We are  happy to announce a  new addition to the Exhibition of Amtrak History in La Plata, Missouri. The idea of adding a large display case detailing the history of the Trails & Rails program began earlier this year when the group began making trips between Chicago, Illinois and La Plata, Missouri on the Southwest Chief… and now… it’s becoming a reality!!

Trails & Rails is a partnership between Amtrak and the National Park Service that began in the late 1990’s in Louisiana. The program features volunteers, along with a paid NPS rangers, who ride aboard select Amtrak trains providing an on-board educational program for passengers. The Trails & Rails program has become more popular every year since its start and has now expanded to more than 20 programs from coast-to-coast.

On December 3, 2012, Trails & Rails founder and National Coordinator James Miculka gave the final approval for the creation of a new program on the Southwest Chief through Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri on a one-year trial basis. Besides receiving support from the National Park Service and Amtrak, the Chicago-to-La Plata Trails & Rails group on Southwest Chief group is also sponsored by Texas A&M’s  Department of Recreation Parks and Tourism Sciences and the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation (APRHF). Program Volunteer Coordinator Robert Tabern and other Chicago-based volunteers work closely with Assistant Lecturer Susan Scott at Texas A&M to make sure that materials being presented are factual and accurate. APRHF President Bob Cox manages the financial aspects of the Trails & Rails volunteers’ lodging, meals, and transportation in La Plata, Missouri. Much of the money to buy speakers and other materials needed have come from the volunteers’ own pocket. It’s been a very unique partnership among four organizations who all agree in the importance of providing passengers with a wealth of knowledge about the natural areas of the Nation’s breadbasket. The first official Trails & Rails run to La Plata, MO was on May 18, 2013; trips have been continuing all summer.

Visitors to APRHF’s Exhibition of Amtrak History will soon be able to learn more about the history of the Trails & Rails program by visiting the new display case located in one of the rail cars located behind the Depot Inn & Suites. On August 13, 2013, a team comprising of Robert & Kandace Tabern and Bob & Amy Cox spent several hours working on the initial layout.  Work will continue over the next few weeks here in August and September 2013 to add display pieces. The cabinet will be also painted and lettering will be added; this will hopefully be done in the Fall. Once fully complete, the display case will feature shirts worn by docents with the three different logo variations used by Trails & Rails over the years. It will also feature items used by docents on the train to present their programs. Display panels will explain how Mr. Miculka founded the program, how the Chicago-based group evolved over the years (including stories about their time doing the program on the Texas Eagle and Empire Builder), and what locations across the country Trails & Rails programs can be found.

This is the only public exhibition in the country explaining the evolution of the Trails & Rails program. It is important to note that this display wouldn’t have been able to be built without donations from people like you to APRHF!!!  Over $500 was raised over the spring and summer for this effort. Bob Cox explains, “The willingness of people to get this display done and their willingness to donate money so quickly… put this right to the top of projects APRHF wanted to get done this year”.

Primary donors include: Kathy Bruecker, James Carr, Bob & Amy Cox, Kerry Denson, John McClelland, Alane Morgan, Terry & Joyce Norton, Bruce Schrimpf, Robert & Kandace Tabern, and Craig Wright.

So, come and see the display in progress!!!  Once it’s finished… we will do another blog post to show you the results of our hard work!!!

Meanwhile, Trails & Rails volunteers continue to provide their on-board education program for passengers on Train #3 (Southwest Chief) between Chicago and La Plata on Thursdays and Saturdays… and on Train #4 (Southwest Chief) between La Plata and Chicago on Fridays and Sundays… through mid-September.

We are all hoping our program will get renewed and possibly expanded in 2014, however we are awaiting official word and evaluation of our inaugural season. Any news will be also be announced here on APRHF’s Blog.

*For a complete list of Trails & Rails programs across the country, please visit:

*Questions, comments, and your feedback about the new Trails & Rails program on the Southwest Chief can be directed to:  James Miculka, National Trails & Rails Coordinator,

*Donations to APRHF’s Trails & Rails Fund can be made to:  APRHF, 109 S. Gex St., La Plata, MO  63549. Please mark Trails & Rails Fund in the memo section of your donations.


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