The Tragedy at the Loomis Street Crossing

On April 25th, 1946 there was a train collision in Naperville, Illinois in which forty-five passengers were killed. Never heard about it? Neither have most of the current residents of Naperville! Why? World War II had just ended and, just as many of the returning soldiers didn't like to focus on the horrors of war, few eye witnesses to the train crash were ever at ease reminiscing about the gruesome sights they saw that day. Also, none of the victims of the wreck were from Naperville. Had forty-five Naperville residents lost their lives in the crash, there would have been a number of commemorative books written and certainly a marker at the site. Neither of these two types of memorials exist today.

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 sixty six years, the worst tragedy in Burlington Railroad history remained relatively untouched by researchers. Nothing about the lives of the forty-five people who lost their lives was collectively, publicly known until now! Spinner's book, The Tragedy at the Loomis Street Crossing is being published by AuthorHouse 66 years after the original tragedy. Chuck has spent over 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 rail buffs, librarians, and museum and newspaper archivists. He has interviewed friends and family members of some of the victims as well as several of the passengers who were injured yet survived. He has also talked with rescue workers and 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 18th. 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, over six decades later, would write the story that Chaney had just lived.

The author can be contacted through his email, by phone (716-763-5408), or by mail (3152 Chautauqua Ave., Ashville, New York 14710).

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