Would you ever watch the Travel Channel or the History Channel with the audio turned off? The answer is probably a resounding ‘no.’ After all, imagine all of the important information you would be missing!
The same principle applies to a train ride. Imaging how much more fun it would be to actually learn about all of the interesting people, places, and history passing by outside your window.
That is where an organization called the Midwest Rail Rangers comes in. This 501(c)(3) non-profit organization has a mission of providing on-board educational programs to passengers on the South Shore Line and on private rail excursions across the Upper Midwest.
Since August 2017, the Midwest Rail Rangers have teamed up with the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) to present their unique brand of fun educational programs to passengers on select weekends, year-round.
Those riding between Downtown Chicago and South Bend via Hammond, East Chicago, Gary, Michigan City, and Hudson Lake can now participate at no extra cost above their regular train ticket.
Interpretive Guides with the Midwest Rail Rangers share stories about the south side of Chicago, the historic steel-mill region of Northwest Indiana, the scenic Indiana Dunes National and State Parks, and the ‘bread-basket’ farming region of La Porte and St. Joseph Counties.
Think you know it all about this region? The information shared by Guides might even stump the most seasoned residents of the area.
What’s with the horse-head architecture around the Pullman Neighborhood? Why did a pioneer aviator conduct hang-glider experiments in Northwest Indiana? What makes the South Shore Line the last Interurban Railroad in America? How did Michigan City participate in the Lincoln Funeral Train Procession?
These questions and much more can be answered if you ride with the Midwest Rail Rangers.
Programs are given two to three weekends per month round-trip from Chicago to South Bend. Upcoming on-board educational program dates on the South Shore Line include the following: April 6, April 13, April 27, May 4, May 18, May 25, June 1, June 8, July 6, July 27, July 28, August 10, August 24, and August 25.
Eastbound programs are presented on the train leaving Millennium Station-Chicago at 8:40am CT; westbound programs are presented on the train leaving South Bend’s Airport Station at 1:05pm ET.
Narration is provided in only one car of the train, where seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis (find us by looking for the yellow signs on the inside of the car - usually near the middle of the train). For additional future dates, check out www.RailRangers.org.
Reservations are not needed, nor accepted for our South Shore programs. Simply purchase your ticket the day of the trip on-line or from a kiosk. (And don’t forget: on weekends, up to three children 13 years of age and under may ride free when accompanied by a parent or guardian.)
Some ‘enhanced’ Midwest Rail Rangers program even feature a Junior Rail Rangers program for kids and teens to learn about the train route.