Here’s the agenda for Dedication Weekend!

Posted by cspinner - March 4th, 2014

Hi Everyone!

The Naperville, Illinois train memorial dedication weekend is less than two months away and plans are being finalized for what should be a fantastic weekend of commemorations!

Friday evening, April 25th, at 7pm I will be giving a talk and having a book signing at Naperville’s Nichols Library located at 200 West Jefferson Avenue in Naperville.  Friday marks the 68th anniversary of the actual date of the train wreck.

Saturday morning at 10am I will be giving a power point presentation on the train wreck at Saints Peter and Paul Parish Hall located at 36 North Ellsworth Street in Naperville.  A number of friends and family of the crash victims will be attending this presentation.  Copies of  The Tragedy at the Loomis Street Crossing will again be available at this event.

Saturday afternoon at 1pm the memorial sculpture, created by Paul Kuhn and sponsored by the Century Walk Foundation will be dedicated at the Naperville train station.  The station is located just three blocks north of Saints Peter and Paul Parish Hall.  The Memorial is sensational.  It is fashioned by hundreds of railroad ties that Kuhn has melted, polished, or bent to form three human life sized figures representing the types of persons present at the crash site.  There will also be an eight minute audio segment that viewers can listen to explaining the wreck and the purpose of the memorial.

If you attend the ceremonies, please come up to see me and let me know you follow my blog entries.   See you on the 26th!

Take care,



Leave A Comment

Excitement is mounting for Naperville Train Memorial Dedication

Posted by cspinner - January 15th, 2014

Hi Everyone,

Yes, it’s only January 15th and already excitement is mounting for the Naperville, Illinois Train Memorial that will be dedicated on Saturday, April 26th, 2014 at 1:05pm at the Naperville Train Station.

I have received word from a number of the friends and families of the victims of the 1946 train wreck who will be making every effort to travel to the dedication ceremonies.  A California resident who is the nephew of one of the victims  already has his plane and hotel reservations!  And I have heard from people from Keokuk, Iowa, Burlington, Iowa, Quincy, Illinois, and DesPlaines, Illinois all of whom are trying to make arrangements to attend.  All of these people had friends and family who were killed or who were injured while traveling in the same car, #1376, the last car of the Advance Flyer that was crashed into by the Exposition Flyer.  The dedication will present to these families an opportunity to share stories of their loved ones and bring closure to many whose lives were affected by the crash.

Also, members of the memorial committee are giving talks to each of the local schools as to the tragic event, the heroic rescue efforts, and the importance of recording and preserving local history.  Each of the schools will be given a copy of  The Tragedy at the Loomis Street Crossing for their libraries.

Mark your calendar, April 26th, and come to the dedication.  You won’t be disappointed.

Take care,


Leave A Comment

Train is longest chocolate structure in the world!

Posted by cspinner - January 7th, 2014

A train made entirely of chocolate has set a new Guinness World Record as the longest chocolate structure in the world.  The sculpture, on display at the busy Brussels South station, is 112 feet long and weighs over 2,755 pounds.
Maltese chocolate artist Andrew Farrugia spent over 700 hours constructing the masterpiece.
He said he came up with the idea of the train last year after visiting the Belgian Chocolate Festival in Bruge: “I had this idea for a while, and I said what do you think if we do this realization of a long chocolate train, you know, because a train you can make it as long as you like.
“Actually it was going to be much smaller than it was, but I kept on adding another wagon, and another wagon, and it’s the size it is today.”
Farrugia had previously built a smaller train of 12 feet for an event in Malta, which he said gave him insight about how to build this much larger version.
There are two parts to the train. The first seven wagons are modeled after the new Belgian trains, and the rest of the train is modeled after the old train wagons, including a wagon with a bar and restaurant on board.
Three days before the event, Farrugia transported the chocolate train by truck in 25 wooden boxes from Malta to Belgium.
Farrugia said the train incurred considerable damage during the drive and several of the train’s walls had completely collapsed. Luckily, with hard work and little sleep, the chocolate artist was able to fix all the damages before presenting the train to the public on Monday.
After measuring the length of the train and confirming no material other than chocolate was used, officials from the Guinness Book of World Records added a new category to the collection of world records and declared the train to be the longest chocolate structure in the world.
All I can say is WOW!  Whether or not you like chocolate, this is amazing.

Leave A Comment

Daily Herald article on Naperville train memorial

Posted by cspinner - January 6th, 2014

Article printed December 28, 2014 in Daily Herald

1946 train crash to be memorialized in Naperville sculpture

The 45 people who died almost seven decades ago in a tragic train crash in Naperville will be memorialized next spring as a public art group unveils a sculpture by a railroad subcontractor and a native of the city.

“Tragedy to Triumph” is the name of the sculpture Paul Kuhn of Naperville is creating to honor victims of the crash that shook the community on April 25, 1946, when two trains collided just east of the railroad station.

For all of the pain it caused, the crash ultimately did much to improve railroad safety, leading the Burlington Railroad to separate departure times of trains traveling on the same track by at least 15 minutes and prompting signal systems nationwide to add a flashing yellow light to give engineers more time to stop.

But the memorial Kuhn is creating will be the first to pay respects to the lives lost in the crash.

“People coming together to help each other is really what I want to focus on,” Kuhn said about his sculpture, which will be formed entirely from recycled railroad parts — melted rail spikes and old train wheels, things he has obtained through his work as a subcontractor for a railroad company.

Naperville Century Walk, a nonprofit organization that has placed 44 pieces of art in public locations since 1996, is commissioning Kuhn’s $60,000 sculpture in an effort Chairman Brand Bobosky said was motivated by a book about the crash.

“We think it’s right to remember this event and the people who perished,” Bobosky said.

The book “The Tragedy at the Loomis Street Crossing,” was released last year, the product of five years of research on the crash victims, survivors, stories and circumstances by Chuck Spinner, a Naperville native who was born shortly after the 1946 accident. Spinner, who now lives in New York, said he felt compelled to research and write about the crash’s history once he retired from a teaching career.

“These were people whose lives were taken much too early,” Spinner said of the 45 passengers killed when one westbound train leaving Chicago rear-ended another that had stopped because of concerns with its undercarriage. “It’s nice to commemorate their lives and what they had achieved and sort of the spirit they brought to others.”

Bobosky said Spinner’s local presentations about the book last year brought the crash back to the minds of several prominent residents, who then began meeting as the “train wreck committee” to develop plans for a memorial.

The committee accepted Kuhn’s proposal in November and he now is working full-time on completing it before the scheduled dedication date of April 26, 2014 — one day after the 68th anniversary of the crash. The weekend scheduling should allow more people from out of town, such as relatives of those who died in the crash, to attend the ceremony, Bobosky said.

“Tragedy to Triumph” will be located at the far eastern edge of the platform at what now is Naperville’s downtown Metra station at 101 E. 4th Ave. It will show two men on either side of a woman injured in the crash, helping her walk with her arms over their shoulders in the “human crutch” position. Train wheels will be scattered around the three human figures and a plaque will list the names of those who died.

One of the men to be portrayed in the sculpture represents the Naperville residents who helped respond to the emergency, which took place in a town with no hospital and only a volunteer fire department.

Bobosky said the various functions of the “sleepy little town” of nearly 5,000 people came together that day, with workers at the town’s biggest employer, Kroehler Manufacturing Co., leading the way and North Central College students stepping in to assist.

The other man in the sculpture will represent members of the military, since several crash survivors were enlisted soldiers returning home from deployment.

Kuhn, whose family has lived in Naperville for generations, said several relatives remember the crash and were among those who pitched in to respond. As he was developing his proposal for the sculpture, he sought their recollections and tried to “put myself into the project.”

“I really had to sit down and think about what happened and how this affected the community,” Kuhn said.

Talking with his relatives helped, he said.

“The whole concept was to show the community coming together and helping out during such a traumatic event.”

Leave A Comment

Chicago Tribune gives front page coverage to train memorial dedication

Posted by cspinner - December 2nd, 2013

Hi Everyone,

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving holiday.  Lots of exciting news!  You can find an article  (December 1, 2013) about the Memorial to the Victims of the Naperville Train Wreck on the on-line version of the Chicago Tribune.  The story will appear in print form in the Chicago Tribune in Thursday edition of the paper.  The story gives a picture representation of what the completed memorial will look like.  The dedication will take place on Saturday, April 26th, 2014)  the day after the anniversary of the actual crash date.  The reason for the adjustment in the date is that the memorial committee predicted correctly that there will be many more parking places available on a Saturday.  Also, they felt that many more people from out of town from the families of the victims will be able to make a weekend ceremony.  I will give you more details on the dedication ceremonies as I receive them.  Please make plans to attend the April 26th celebration.   And think about buying a book now as a Christmas present.  I can inscribe and autograph the book in Naperville in April.

Take care,


Leave A Comment

Dedication of Naperville Train Memorial to be held April 25, 2014!!

Posted by cspinner - October 20th, 2013

Hi Everyone,

I just got word from the chairman of the Naperville Train Memorial that the dedication of the memorial is scheduled for April 25th, 2014.  That date is the 68th anniversary of the Naperville train crash that took the lives of 45 people.  I will now set about getting word out to the families of the victims involved in the tragedy.  These families have indicated that they planned to travel to Naperville to be part of any memorial dedication that might take place.  Mark your calendars for next April 25th and try to attend.  It should be quite a ceremony!   I am so thankful for the efforts of all the members of the committee and am thankful that, even though I couldn’t attend any meetings, they made me a committee member.

Take care,


Leave A Comment

Successful Naperville family reunion

Posted by cspinner - September 3rd, 2013

Hi Everyone!

My wife and I just came back from a family reunion in Naperville, Illinois.  It was a long, 9 hour car ride from the lake to Naperville that was made easier by listening to audio books.

We enjoyed Naperville’s Thursday band concert.  Ron Keller is the conductor, although this night was his night off and he appeared only briefly.  Ron was a first grader when the train wreck took place.  His recollections are featured in my book.  Ron and his wife Vicki came to my train talk Saturday evening at the VFW Hall.  Ron is a member of the committee that is studying proposals for a memorial to be placed at or near the 1946 crash site.

There were about 60 people there and we all had pizza and drinks and it was definitely a great pre reunion party.  Bobby Wehrli, a Dayton University college student, was a godsend in helping me set up the projector for my presentation.

On Friday afternoon I gave a talk at Naperville’s Sunrise Senior Center.  The complex was gorgeous and the staff was caring, enthusiastic, and, you could tell, were loved by the residents.  Missy Creasy had invited me to speak to residents.  She is a delightful person and it was a pleasure to work with her.

Saturday my wife and I took a short train ride to Downers Grove, Illinois where we went to a farmers market, bought pastry, had coffee, and went window shopping.

And Sunday all our relatives attended mass at beautiful, historic SS Peter and Paul Church and then gathered again at the home of Dick and Marge Rechenmacher where their children hosted a fantastic reunion that featured the telling of family stories, great food, skits, spirited games of volleyball, and even a precision rifle drill demonstration by Marmion Academy’s A.J. Rechenmacher.

Also, during the festivities, Corinne Rechenmacher was presented the Bernie Award from last year’s winner, Kathy Rechenmacher.  The Bernie Award is the plaque given to the winner of the annual NCAA basketball pool that has raised $4500 to a variety of charities over a ten year period.

We are now pretty exhausted, but filled with wonderful memories of a fantastic reunion.

Take care,


Leave A Comment

We’re going back to Naperville!!

Posted by cspinner - July 19th, 2013

Hi Everyone,

Patrice and I are going back to Naperville, Illinois for the Rechenmacher Family Reunion, hosted brilliantly by the Dick and Marge Rechenmacher families!  We are looking forward to this wonderful opportunity to catch up personally with our Aunts and Uncles, cousins, and other associated relatives.

During our return, I have the opportunity to give a power point presentation on Friday, July 26th, at 3pm to the Sunrise Senior Living group at 960 E. Chicago Ave.

I also am looking forward to giving my train talk to our relatives on Saturday, July 27th, at the VFW Hall in Naperville.  Several of my Aunts and Uncles played a part in the rescue efforts that day!  I am excited to be able to relate to my relatives that a committee is now working on plans to place a memorial at or near the crash site.  And, on Sunday, July 28th, the reunion itself will take place with many fun activities, great food and drink, and the opportunity to catch up with our great relatives who will be coming in from all parts of the United States!

Should be an awesome, fun weekend!

Take care,


Leave A Comment

Sleep in a caboose!

Posted by cspinner - June 20th, 2013

Hi Everyone,

Patrice and I just returned from a two day trip with our grandsons to the Kinzua Skywalk in Jewett, Pa. and a tour of the new and amazing oil museum in Titusville, Pa.  Both attractions were spectacular, but, for the boys, the highlight of the trip would probably be sleeping in a caboose in between our visit to these two historical places.  I really can’t summarize the motel better than the write-up in Roadside America.com so I’ll let them tell you about about the accommodations:

Titusville, Pennsylvania

There are a number of motels scattered across the U.S.A. that provide the peculiar thrill of sleeping in a caboose. The train’s famous tail-end is now a historical artifact — phased out decades ago. But this collection of 21 is a virtual caboose retirement village, densely packed and near a still operating train attraction.

The Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad Caboose Motel opened in 2005; the cabooses had been acquired from an earlier Titusville caboose motel (Casey’s Caboose Stop).

Some of the cabooses.

They are set in two long lines on parallel tracks next to Titusville’s old Perry Street Station. There are red cabooses, teal cabooses, white cabooses, yellow cabooses, cabooses with cupolas and cabooses with bay windows. The rooms have been refurbished with modern bathrooms, beds, air conditioners, coffee makers, etc. Each caboose is provided with a deck and deck chairs so that you can enjoy the view — of the other cabooses.

An adjacent historic train — the Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad — offers a 2 1/2 hour tour on June-October weekends of “Oil Heritage Country.”


    The clerk at the hotel, Nick, was very informative and helpful, and we were randomly given the Illinois Central Unit which I thought was appropriate for an author who had written a book on an Illinois Train wreck!  Our grandsons helped me list the cabooses which were from: Delaware and Hudson, Illinois Central, West Maryland, Oil Creek-Titusville, Reading Lines, Pennsylvania, Bessemer, Erie, New York Central Systems, Baltimore and Ohio, P&S Shauwmut, Chesapeake and Ohio, Conrail, Pennsylvania Central, Erie Lackawana, NW, Nickel Plate, B&O Chessie System, Western Maryland, and Wabash.

I’d recommend this motel to any rail buff traveling in or around the Titusville area.

Take care,



Leave A Comment

Book talk and signing at Westfield’s The Sugar Shack

Posted by cspinner - June 10th, 2013

Hi Everyone,

We sure have been busy…so busy that I had forgotten to announce a book signing to be held this evening at The Sugar Shack in Westfield, New York (7904 Rte 5, Westfield, NY) from 6 to 8pm.  Hope you can make it despite this last minute announcement.  Hopefully you have already been alerted to the signing by the articles  in the Jamestown Post Journal.

There will be 8 local authors there this evening talking about their books, so you should get an interesting variety of presentations of both fiction and non-fiction works.

Hope to see you there!

Take care,


P.S.  The Naperville committee that has been formed to examine the issue of creating a memorial to the victims of the 1946 Naperville train wreck held their second meeting on Saturday, June 1st.  More details will be given in a future blog.  Next scheduled meeting will be August 9th.

Leave A Comment

« Previous Entries