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Annual Gathering Commemorates Train Wreck

More than 100 people attended Chautauqua Rails to Trails' annual Christmas Eve commemoration of the deadly train wreck of 1872 at the Prospect Station trailhead in Westfield. The organization is also celebrating its 30th anniversary. Submitted photo

WESTFIELD — A record 108 people attended the annual Chautauqua Rails to Trails Christmas Eve commemoration of the deadly train wreck of 1872 at the Prospect Station trailhead in Westfield.

The organization also chose to celebrate its 30th anniversary on the mild winter afternoon. After a quarter-mile hike to the wreck site and sculpture, attendees listened to president emeritus Jim Fincher recount the story of the tragedy that claimed more than 20 lives.

Current president Bill Ward performed his original song, “Christmas Eve at Prospect Station.”

Back at the trailhead, many stayed to enjoy refreshments and inspiring words from Ward and state Assemblyman Andy Goodell, whose father, the late Jamestown attorney John Goodell, was the co-founder along with Dr. Robert Berke in 1991 of what soon became Chautauqua Rails to Trails.

Evelyn Thorndike, the widow of another of the earliest founders, Sam Thorndike, was also in attendance.

Ward played another of his songs, “Christmas on the Trail,” and added a verse for the 30th anniversary. Adding to the day’s success was the addition of many new members.

For more information see www.chaurtt.org or Facebook, or call 716-753-2800

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