An Ashville man has written the definitive story of the worst train wreck in the history of the Burlington Railroad.
The collision occurred in Naperville, Ill. on April 25, 1946; 45 people were killed in the wreck, and many more were injured. Author Chuck Spinner's family lived a block from the crossing where the accident occurred. He now resides in Ashville with his wife Patrice Supik and their children.
Spinner recently completed a three-week book tour of Naperville and the towns where the families of the victims lived. Now, he will return to Western New York to speak about and sign his book at both 9:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown. Admission is $5 and refreshments will be served following both talks during the book signing.
"When I read that there were 45 people killed, I thought to myself that nothing has ever been written about this, and there is no marker at the site, so somebody should do that," said Spinner. "I thought at the time that it would be an easy thing to find out (about) the lives of the 45 people, but it wasn't so easy; it took me five years."
During those five years of intense research, Spinner uncovered the histories of all 45 victims of the tragedy, interviewed the only two surviving eye witnesses of the event and talked with survivors and helpers at the site. He was even able to provide several corrections to the Time magazine article that appeared on page 25 of the May 6, 1946, edition, regarding the tragedy.
"I'm very proud of what I've done," said Spinner. "When I unveiled the book, the mayor of Naperville, George Pradel, stated that it was about time that a marker be placed at the site of the crash."
Spinner hopes the marker dedication ceremony will take place on April 25, 2013, the 67th anniversary of the tragedy.
In 2002 Spinner retired after a 33-year career teaching high school social studies in the Cleveland, Ohio, area. Since retiring, he has written two books. The first was "A Book of Prayers: To the Heavens From the Stars," a collection of the favorite prayers of 118 celebrities. For more information visit abookofprayers.com.
His second book, the recently released "The Tragedy at the Loomis Street Crossing," tells the story of the worst collision in the history of the Burlington Railroad, and the stories of victims affected by the wreck.
"I was born at St. Charles Hospital in Aurora, Ill. on October 22, 1946," said Spinner. "Thomas Chaney, severely injured in the train wreck, was released from this same hospital on December 18, 1946. Perhaps, during his recovery, Tom may have viewed me in the hospital nursery. If so, Chaney would have never imagined that he was viewing the person who, 66 years later, would write the story that he had just lived."
The idea for the book came to Spinner while cleaning out his file storage. Now, he fears that if he cleans his storage again, he will end up finding another story idea.
"I've always wanted to make a difference," said Spinner. "And, who knows when the next opportunity will unveil itself."
"The Tragedy at the Loomis Street Crossing" can be ordered from local bookstores, from Amazon, or from AuthorHouse.com.