In early June, former Naperville resident Chuck Spinner introduced his book about The Tragedy at the Loomis Street Crossing during a booksigning at Anderson’s Bookshop. Dozens of relatives and friends made connections, many of whom had not seen each other in a very long time. Thanks to great publicity in a variety of local media, other folks interested in the topic also arrived to meet Spinner who artfully told the story of a Naperville tragedy.
Now in print and available, the book chronicles the story of the tragic April 25, 1946, Naperville train wreck that took the lives of 45 people. The rail crash was the worst disaster in the history of the Burlington Railroad. Sixty-six years after the tragedy, Spinner, whose family lived just a block from the scene of the accident when it occurred, recreated this forgotten history in this definitive work.
This week, Spinner notified Positively Naperville’s publisher that he has launched the book’s new website—www.napervilletrainwreck.com—which has just gone “live.”
According to Spinner, the book is available at Anderson’s Bookshop, Barnes and Noble, Oswald’s Pharmacy and a number of other locations.
And on that note: PN also appreciates Spinner’s kind words that appear on PN Greetings. This editor still remembers when Spinner first contacted PN with his idea for the book more than five years ago. And now a copy of his enlightening book is in PN’s personal library of commemorative and Naperville history books.
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Synopsis of The Tragedy at the Loomis Street Crossing
On April 25, 1946, there was a train collision in Naperville, Illinois in which 45 passengers were killed.
On that tragic day, two Burlington trains, the Advance Flyer and the Exposition Flyer, left Chicago’s Union Station at 12:35pm on adjoining tracks. Four miles from the station, the Exposition Flyer merged onto the same track behind the Advance Flyer. The Advance Flyer, train #11, was traveling to Burlington, Iowa and then to Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. The Exposition Flyer, train #39, was following two to three minutes behind the Advance Flyer, and both trains were traveling at speeds of 80-85 miles an hour. Train #39 was so named because its destination was Oakland, California, where passengers were traveling to participate in the 1939 Exposition commemorating the completion of the Golden Gate Bridge. The two trains, traveling at speeds of eighty to eighty-five miles an hour, separated by just two to three minutes created a picture of an accident waiting to happen. When the first train stopped unexpectedly around the Naperville bend, for a supposed mechanical problem, the second train could not stop in time and telescoped into the Advance Flyer.
For 66 years, the worst tragedy in Burlington Railroad history remained relatively untouched by researchers. Nothing about the lives of the 45 people who lost their lives was collectively, publicly known – until now!
Chuck Spinner’s book, The Tragedy at the Loomis Street Crossing is now available. It is published by AuthorHouse. Spinner spent five years learning about the life histories of these forty-five victims and why they were on the train that day. In fascinating style, Spinner details which passengers’ lives were doomed due to a variety of unfortunate, often freakish circumstances.
Early reviewers are unanimously amazed at the painstaking research exhibited in the book. Spinner has sought research help from railroad societies, libraries, museums, and newspapers from the victims’ towns. He has worked with archivists at the Naperville Settlement as well as North Central College. He has interviewed family members of some of the victims as well as several of the passengers who were injured yet survived. He has also talked with spectators who were at the site and two surviving eye witnesses of the actual collision.
Chuck Spinner has a unique interest in this tragedy. His family lived just a block from the crossing where the wreck occurred. He was in his mother’s womb at the time (he was born on October 22, 1946).
The last injured person from the wreck to be released from treatment at St. Charles Hospital was Tom Chaney. His therapy wasn’t complete until December 26. Very likely Chaney, during his rehabilitation at that same hospital, visited the hospital’s nursery, where he quite possibly viewed the little Spinner baby. Never would any of the hospital personnel have thought that they were looking at the author who, more than six decades later, would write the story that Chaney had just lived!
Spinner can be contacted by email at [email protected].