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Train wreck that affected three Traer families

May 11, 2012
Traer Star-Clipper

The Traer Public Library will host author Mary K. Buffington of Iowa City, on Thursday, May 17th, at 5 p.m.

Buffington recently published a book titled, Night Train To Nisswa, a true story about the 1916 Packard, Iowa train wreck and the effect it had on three families from Traer.

Flood Creek in Northeast Iowa swelled beyond its usual trickle when torrential rains poured down on June 1, 1916. The scene was set for a tragic event when railroad officials in Waterloo were forced to make a decision for Engine No. 19 to cross the Packard bridge.

When Olive Kober boarded the train in Waterloo, along with her two teenage daughters and her mother, Flora Van Vliete of Traer, for a summer vacation in Nisswa, Minn., she had no idea how her life would change that night.

This story came to light when Buffington first heard it told by the late Margaret Dunlavey, of Traer. Buffington was so smitten by the story, that she began to research the tragedy. This led to an additional search on the three families that lived in Traer in the late 1800's and early 1900's-the Van Vliete's the Kober's, and the Dunlavey's.

Anyone interested in Iowa history, genealogy, or railroad history will find this to be a captivating true story.

Along with the book signing program, Francis Edeker, from Clarksville will contribute memorabilia as well as a model of the train wreck. He has shared his knowledge of the event with Buffington. Francis conducts tours from his TRAINS ON THE FARM MUSEUM in Clarksville. (checkout his website at

On the 96th anniversary of this tragedy, June 1st and 2nd, Buffington and Edeker will conduct a TOUR/BOOK SIGNING event from Clarksville. Readers of this book can satisfy their curiosity by visiting the very site of the Packard disaster be calling Francis Edeker at 319-278-4847 or 319-415-4814 (cell) to schedule a tour.



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