Presentation remembers lives lost in train tragedy
Naperville marks 68th anniversary of crash with memorial dedication
Sixty-eight years ago, the worst disaster in the history of the Burlington Railroad took the lives of 45 people involved in a Naperville train accident.
Chuck Spinner, author of “The Tragedy at the Loomis Street Crossing,” was only a baby at the time of the accident. His family lived a block from the train wreck.
“When I was born, there were still three passengers from the wreck still recuperating at the hospital,” Spinner said. “So, it's possible these people saw me in the nursery – they would have never imagined that this would be the person who over six decades later would write their story.”
During a presentation from 7 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 25 at Nichols Library, 200 W. Jefferson Ave.,
Spinner will tell the interesting stories of some of the 45 victims and describe the heroic rescue efforts made that day. Spinner’s book will be available for purchase at the April 25 event, which marks the actual 68th anniversary of the train wreck.
Spinner published his book in 2012 after five years of extensive research. To learn more about the train tragedy, he contacted the Naperville Historical Society and North Central College as well as libraries and newspapers of the towns where the victims were from.
“Many of the librarians got so involved in the research that many of them spent after hours and weekends searching for answers to some of my questions,” he said. “When I found the families of the victims, they were generally very, very cooperative in providing information on the lives of their deceased relatives.”
During a memorial at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 26 at the Naperville Train Station, a statue titled Tragedy to Triumph will be dedicated at the crash site. The sculpture features three figures all made out of hundreds of railroad spikes – a Kroehler worker and a sailor assisting an injured
woman passenger as well as real train wheels that bookend the statue.
“In addition there will be a plaque that lists the names of the victims and briefly describes the wreck and the purpose of the sculpture,” Spinner said.
For more information, go to http://bit.ly/1kToYMc.