The APRHF-sponsored Trails & Rails program wrapped up its Inaugural Summer 2013 season on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief between Chicago and La Plata, Missouri on Wednesday, September 25, 2013. For those of who haven’t heard the news yet, thanks to sponsorship from the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation, a new Trails & Rails group was formed earlier this year. Trails & Rails places National Park Service guides on Amtrak trains in hopes of educating passengers about the sites out their window; in this case it’s the landmarks between the Windy City and Northeast Missouri. The APRHF is responsible for managing the vast majority of the funding for the new Trails & Rails group, including providing lodging for volunteers at the Depot Inn & Suites during their La Plata layover.
While the final statistics for the Summer 2013 season are still being tallied, all of the parties involved feel the season was a complete success. It is estimated that just shy of 20,000 passengers were reached during the 36 round trip runs conducted between May 18, 2013 and September 25, 2013.
The vast majority of Trails & Rails programs across the country do not operate trips between the mid-fall and mid-spring months. However, everyone at APRHF likes to think “outside the box”… so when the idea of a limited winter season of Trails & Rails trips was thrown out… the organization was quick to jump aboard and support the idea. As a result, 12 additional round trips have been approved by Amtrak and the National Park Service.
You can catch the program on the westbound Southwest Chief, Train #3, between Chicago, Illinois and La Plata, MO on the following dates: November 12, November 14, November 19, November 26, November 28, December 3, December 5. December 10, December 12, December 17, December 19, and December 26.
You can catch the program on the eastbound Southwest Chief, Train #4, between La Plata, MO and Naperville, IL on the following dates: November 13, November 15, November 20, November 27, November 29, December 4, December 6. December 11, December 13, December 18, December 20, and December 27.
As always, the program can be heard free of charge in the upper level of the Sightseer Lounge Car for passengers who purchase a valid coach or sleeping car ticket.
Trails & Rails Chicago Coordinator Robert Tabern and his wife, Kandace Tabern, who serves as Assistant Chicago Coordinator are excited about the Winter 2013 season. Robert explains, “Trails & Rails has run out of Chicago for the last 13 years on various routes, but this is the first time a Trails & Rails program has run during the winter. We were hoping to reach out to passengers who might not travel during the summer months, but hit the rails around Thanksgiving and Christmas time.”
Kandace Tabern says, “This is really going to be unique and fun. Going westbound it will get dark around Mendota, Illinois and we will have to stop our traditional narration at that point. However, I am looking forward to that, because it will give us more time to spend one-on-one with passengers talking about the mission of the National Park Service and the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation.”
Other volunteers with the Trails & Rails program say they are looking forward to seeing all of the Christmas lights in the small towns of Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri while doing the program.
Some of the Trails & Rails volunteers who have been involved in the program are planning a special event on December 17, 2013 in La Plata. Details for this event are still being worked out, but come back soon to hear the exciting details of what will be happening… and “save the date”, please!!
Come and join us… Trails & Rails Winter Season 2013!!!!