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 Post subject: Mt. Rainier RR Shuts Down--For Good?
PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2020 9:25 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 9561
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
Confirmed ONLY by clicking the "Book Now" page of the Mt. Rainier RR website:

https://mtrainierrailroad.com/

Quote:
It is with heavy heart and great sadness we are announcing, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other complications; American Heritage Railways Inc. has decided to cease operations and close Mt. Rainer Railroad. While our hope is to see the train operating in the future, at this time, we must close the doors, cancel all future events, museum, and excursions for the foreseeable future.

We will close ticket purchases through online and Phone agents Friday May 15, 2020. Deposits and ticket purchases made on or before May 15, 2020 will be notified via email and refunded automatically. Refunds will happen in batches, expected to begin Monday May 18, 2020.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause; please know we are truly saddened by this difficult decision; we will continue to work hard to preserve the history and character of this storied railroad. We wish everyone good health and wellness through this challenging time.


The main page and Facebook page has not, at the time I type this, been updated with this news.

https://www.facebook.com/MtRainierRailroad/

UPDATE: Bob Harbison confirms this letter:

Quote:
From American Heritage Management Re: Mt Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum
May 18, 2020

To: The partners and contractors of Mt Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum

Subject: Termination of All Operations

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:

American Heritage Railways Inc. has decided to permanently cease operations and close Mt. Rainier Railroad for the foreseeable future. Due to the pandemic COVID-19 and the complications with the WFIM not-for profit, American Heritage Railways Inc. can no longer continue to fund MRRR. MRR and AHR management teams will immediately implement a plan to close the railroad in as orderly manner as possible. As such, we will be closing the doors and canceling all future events and train excursions for the foreseeable future, expected to remain through and beyond the end of the year.

We have contacted our staff and have begun reaching out to Business partners, groups, vendors, partners, and contractors. We will be terminating all marketing, web, advertising, and other vendor support for this location effective immediately. We are currently working on a communications plan and will be focused on messaging our current and future customers directly. Refunds for existing riders are began May 187, 2020, and the closure of all reservations online and by phone started Friday May 15, 2020.

We truly appreciate the hard work, effort, and support everyone has put into Mt. Rainier over the last three years. From John and Al Harper, “It is with great regret and sorrow that this must happen. Each one of you have done your best to make Mt. Rainier Railroad prosper and delight our customers. It just seems we could not overcome all the surmounting roadblocks.”

On behalf of Mt. Rainier Railroad, we wish you well and hope that our paths will meet again in the future.

Sincerely Yours,
American Heritage Management Team


Last edited by Alexander D. Mitchell IV on Mon May 18, 2020 10:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Mt. Rainier Scenic RR Shuts Down--For Good?
PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2020 9:56 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 652
Perhaps the non-profit that previously owned it can regain control?

This operation has had so many ups and downs...


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 Post subject: Re: Mt. Rainier Scenic RR Shuts Down--For Good?
PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2020 9:59 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:45 pm
Posts: 173
I was thinking about this railroad today as I was going through slides from my 2006 Morton to Tacoma charter with Heisler #91. (Great time to organize materials.)
This is a wonderful route that just seems to face one challenge after another. I sure hope that it is able to rise again, after "the foreseeable future."
Bart Jennings


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 Post subject: Re: Mt. Rainier Scenic RR Shuts Down--For Good?
PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2020 10:25 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2652
Minor clarification. The Mt Rainier Scenic RR shut down back when AHR took over a few years ago.

The current operation is the Mt Rainier Railroad.


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 Post subject: Re: Mt. Rainier RR Shuts Down--For Good?
PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2020 10:38 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 9561
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
Old habits/names die hard.

Ask anyone who refers to an active RR line, part of a Class One, by its original name of 100+ years ago.


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 Post subject: Re: Mt. Rainier RR Shuts Down--For Good?
PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2020 10:46 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2652
I get it, I still call it the Mount Rainier Scenic as well...

But since this is a news story and likely to spread far and wide, I figured it was a worth a mention.

Also, note that there are two entities involved, MRRR (as if to prove your point, I typed MRSR) and WFM, the non profit entities.

It's a complex situation and I'm not privy to the details, but I think we can all agree that right now may not be the best time for this to have happened.


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 Post subject: Re: Mt. Rainier RR Shuts Down--For Good?
PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2020 11:36 pm 

Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:04 pm
Posts: 193
Very sad news indeed. First experience with them was a double header up the 3%, former Milwaukee road grade in Tacoma, Washington in 1997. I had just moved to Washington and that ride left quite the impression on me. Over the years I must have photographed and video taped nearly every mile they went. They eventually let me tag along in the locomotives including a run up the famous hill. Really a great group of people and very talented mechanics. It truly was a railroad run by people who lived, breathed, and loved railroading.

I moved in 2009 to another state. I would read the blogs now and then and remember reading they were bought out by another company. I knew things would never be the same. Ticket prices increased by leaps and bounds. Cab rides were at least a hundred dollars. My beloved railroad that I rode so many countless miles on, was now a big corporate machine. I felt like a best friend had died.

Railroads will come and go but video is forever! Here is some of my favorite videos I recorded of this amazing railroad.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcPleWYGTvE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2Q6I4imIyQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=755NTWetvBI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pdokwps2Gr4

If I remember reading right didn't Iowa Pacific own both the Mount Rainier and the Mount Hood railroad? Iowa Pacific is more less being dissolved as we speak.


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 Post subject: Re: Mt. Rainier RR Shuts Down--For Good?
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2020 12:36 am 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:54 am
Posts: 773
Location: New Franklin, OH
Mount Hood was/is part of Iowa Pacific through Permian Basin or something like that. Mount Rainier is owned by American Heritage Railways, the Durango & Silverton folks.

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Eric Schlentner
Orrville Railroad Heritage Society
Car Knocker, Gandy Dancer & Hog Jockey
https://orrvillerailroad.com


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 Post subject: Re: Mt. Rainier RR Shuts Down--For Good?
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2020 12:41 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2652
Love this one!

https://youtu.be/u2Q6I4imIyQ

Check out the guy on the front footboard! What’s he think this is, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway? He must be nuts!


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 Post subject: Re: Mt. Rainier RR Shuts Down--For Good?
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2020 12:46 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2652
When the Mt Hood Scenic was for sale, the broker apparently just did a google search and grabbed images. One of which was my very popular 3 engines side by side photo from Mt Rainier Scenic. No permission, wrong railroad, no steam locomotives for sale, but hey, it looked nice, right?


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 Post subject: Re: Mt. Rainier RR Shuts Down--For Good?
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2020 1:06 am 

Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:04 pm
Posts: 193
Bobharbison wrote:
Love this one!

https://youtu.be/u2Q6I4imIyQ

Check out the guy on the front footboard! What’s he think this is, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway? He must be nuts!


Thanks for the memories Bob! Miss those Tacoma runs.


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 Post subject: Re: Mt. Rainier RR Shuts Down--For Good?
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2020 1:58 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:07 am
Posts: 720
Location: Philadelphia Pa
Considering their last two seasons have seen consecutive 20,000 rider increases, primarily due to Polar Expresss, their shutting down due to the virus outcome does not seem justified, unless they are spending money from Mt Rainer to offset expenses/losses from the D&S.

They SHOULD be in a far better financial position than just a few years ago to keep open with two years of increasing revenue.


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 Post subject: Re: Mt. Rainier RR Shuts Down--For Good?
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2020 10:42 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2652
Tom F wrote:
Bobharbison wrote:
Love this one!

https://youtu.be/u2Q6I4imIyQ

Check out the guy on the front footboard! What’s he think this is, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway? He must be nuts!


Thanks for the memories Bob! Miss those Tacoma runs.


Thank you for capturing them!

For the rest of you, that comment was a bit of an inside joke. The guy on the footboard is me, and I did that on the hill more times than I could count. They used to call me Mr Sandman. Working sanders seemed to elude us, possibly due to the wet climate. We also suspected soap or oil on the rails on occasion.

As I said, I've done that on the hill quite a few times, often managing to keep us moving. This time was especially challenging, and I'm glad somebody was positioned to capture the battle and preserve. Pretty sure we'll not be doing that again. (To which the FRA man grumbles "Damn right you won't..." )


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 Post subject: Re: Mt. Rainier RR Shuts Down--For Good?
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2020 10:48 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2652
junior wrote:
They SHOULD be in a far better financial position than just a few years ago to keep open with two years of increasing revenue.


I have absolutely no inside knowledge of the financials. But everything I've heard, from numerous sources, indicated the money was flowing in the opposite direction, from the D&SNG to the MRRR.

It was essentially an attempt to open a new market, sort of a franchise if you will, and the parent organization was funding it to get it going.

As I said, that's purely rumors, aside from the occasional paycheck, I saw no financial documents. But it was from reliable sources, and based on my knowledge of previous years at the railroad, it wasn't exactly producing piles of money. Granted the Polar Express helped, but the marketing and staffing were also hugely expensive. The number of people it took to put that on was far more than most people realize. Several crew members in each car, performers, two "show conductors", and of course two large gentlemen with beards who had some kind of a role. Then all the support crew, ticketing, station, food and beverages, etc, etc, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Mt. Rainier RR Shuts Down--For Good?
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2020 5:01 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:33 am
Posts: 90
In 2012-2013 or so I had a phone call interview with Al Harper about operating heritage railroads for an assignment I was writing in a class I was taking at the time. To put it into context, this was during that brief era where American Heritage Railways Inc had flirted with the idea of taking control of the Cumbres and Toltec. Eventually Al and AHR backed out of the idea of controlling the Cumbres and passed it onto the current ownership. I asked Al about it, and I remember him stating simply he had no way to make the C&T profitable without using extensive money from the government or grants. I left the conversation with a strong sense of Al's attitude, he is a shrewd businessman; he has a love for trains and railroad history but I gathered even back then he wasn't afraid to quickly cut loose from a failing prospect if it meant he would loose money.

Hopefully the Mt. Rainier can be like a phoenix and return in the future, but until then fingers crossed.


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