APRHF & “Zephyr Route” Team Up for Dome Excursion

The American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation (APRHF) is proud to announce that it will be teaming up later this month with “Zephyr Route”, a private rail car excursion company that is based in the Chicago area. On Saturday, June 27th, 2015, “Zephyr Route” will be operating a full-length dome car on the back of Amtrak Train #381 (“Carl Sandburg”) from Chicago Union Station to Quincy, Illinois, and also on the back of Amtrak Train #382 from Quincy to Chicago. As part of its railroad history outreach mission, the APRHF will be supplying two of its conductor-level members to the “Zephyr Route”; Robert and Kandace Tabern, of Wadsworth, Illinois, will narrate the route for westbound passengers, explaining some of the interesting sites to see from the train, while passing through communities such as Naperville, Plano, Mendota, Princeton, Kewanee, Galesburg, Macomb, and Quincy.


APRHF volunteers will present an interpretive program for passengers aboard the “Prairie View” Dome Car on June 27th

The “Zephyr Route” excursion begins boarding at Chicago Union Station, just after 7:00am, with the train departing at 7:35am. It will head west and make several stops to load passengers before arriving in Galesburg, just before 10:30am. Many passengers will be traveling round-trip on the dome car between Chicago/Naperville and the Galesburg Railroad Days event, which will be going on that weekend. Galesburg Railroad Days will feature the Lincoln Funeral Train and Amtrak’s Exhibit Train. In Galesburg, a handful of passengers will remain on, while new passengers will also board, as the train continues on the old CB&Q route to Macomb and Quincy. The train is scheduled to terminate in Quincy just after Noon, with passengers boarding a motor coach to nearby Hannibal, Missouri. Once there, everyone will get to see what life was like back in the Mark Twain Days — there is even an optional steamboat excursion on the Mississippi River that guests can partake in. After having their fill of Missouri hospitality, passengers will re-board the dome car in Quincy just after 5:00pm, arriving back in Galesburg around 7:00pm and Chicago Union Station around 10:00pm.

Mike Abernathy, of St. Charles, Illinois, owns “Zephyr Route”; he has been planning private rail car excursions out of the Chicago area since 2009. His ultimate goal is to raise enough money for the restoration of “Silver View”, an ex-CB&Q round-end dome car that he owns, and is currently being restored in Iowa. Instead of chartering out other rail cars, Abernathy plans for “Silver View” to be the premier venue to hold excursions on for “Zephyr Route”. You can learn more about his company by checking out its website – http://www.zephyrroute.com, This is the first time that Abernathy and “Zephyr Route” have teamed up with the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation for a historical program to be presented on an excursion. While the June 27th excursion is “SOLD OUT” — Abernathy is planning upcoming excursions this year to Denver and the Twin Cities. Details on these excursions are also listed on the website; if you book, make sure you mention you heard about the trip through the APRHF (the APRHF will get a donation from “Zephyr Route” for each booking!!!)


Mike Abernathy, owner of “Zephyr Route”, is currently restoring ex-CB&Q car “Silver View”

Both Robert & Kandace Tabern are veterans when it comes to narrating on both private rail cars and on the BNSF line between Chicago and Galesburg, Illinois. Since 2010, the Taberns have been doing interpretive programs for Friends of the 261, a rail history organization based in the Twin Cities. Robert can often be found narrating the route in the upper level of the dome car, while Kandace roams the train and interacts with children and teens aboard. The Taberns also currently serve as the Chicago Coordinators for the APRHF-sponsored Trails & Rails program that has been operating between Chicago and La Plata, Missouri on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief since May 2013. The Taberns have done more than 30 programs while serving as National Park Service volunteers aboard the train as it travels through Chicago, Galesburg, and La Plata. Robert and Kandace have also written a 350-page route guide about the ex-Burlington and ex-Santa Fe lines between Chicago and Galesburg. The Expanded Third Edition and Abbreviated Edition of “Outside the Rails: A Rails Route Guide from Chicago to La Plata, MO” were published in March 2015. Both are available for sale through http://www.outsidetherails.com. A portion of every sale is donated to the APRHF.


Robert & Kandace Tabern, pictured here, will present a program for passengers aboard the June 27th excursion in Illinois.

Bob Cox, President of the APRHF, says he really looks forward to partnering with Mike Abernathy for the June 27th excursion across the heartland of Illinois — from Chicago to the Mississippi River, and hopes it leads to more opportunities for the APRHF to be involved in private rail car excursions in the future.