The Crash at Crush
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member techiegrl64
N 31° 48.265 W 097° 05.527
14R E 680606 N 3520342
Texas Historical Marker commemorating The Crash at Crush, a publicity stunt involving two trains, gone horribly wrong. Moved from the site location, the marker is now at the train depot in West.
Waymark Code: WM557Z
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 11/13/2008
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member QuesterMark
Views: 54

On the afternoon of September 15, 1896, nearly 50,000 people had gathered anxiously on a wide stretch of Texas prairie near Waco to watch two locomotives collide head-on as a publicity event for the railroad. This event was staged at Crush, Texas, a short-lived town established solely for the event and named for William George Crush, a passenger agent for the the Missouri, Kansas, & Texas Railway Company, commonly known as "The Katy". Agent Crush was the organizer of the event and was the person who had concocted the idea for the bizarre stunt.

The event had been planned and promoted for months in advance, and the two locomotives, Old No. 999 and Old No. 1001, were displayed prominently during tours throughout the state. As further incentive Katy officials announced that there would be no admission fee to see the event, and fares for passengers riding the train to see the event would be offered $2 round-trip tickets from all over Texas. This resulted in trains that were so packed that some people had to ride on top of the cars due to the lack of room.

As the throng of spectators looked on, the two 35-ton locomotives, each pulling seven boxcars, collided head-on at a combined speed of 120 miles per hour. Unfortunately, despite the assurances of railroad engineers that such a thing was impossible, at the instant of impact the boilers exploded. Bolts and scraps of iron and debris were hurled hundreds of yards, some into the spectator area. Two spectators were killed and others were seriously injured.

Within hours all of the large debris had been removed by two railroad cranes and souvenir hunters took care of the smaller pieces. By midnight the town of Crush, which had grown to the second largest town in Texas, amounted to nothing more than scraps of red and green metal pieces, mud, and pools of lemonade served at the event. Crush was fired by the railroad management immediately, but was rehired the next day and retired after 57 years of service. The event made such an impression on Scott Joplin, the great ragtime composer of the era, that he commemorated the event by composing "The Great Crush Collision". As one might expect, the crash was the topic of discussion for many months before the memories finally began to fade.

More than 100 years later the location is occupied by cows on the prairie, and there is hardly any indication that the event ever took place. Even the Texas Historical Marker, placed in 1976, has been moved away from the site.
Marker Number: 5315

Marker Text:
(0.5 mi. E) A head-on collision between two locomotives was staged on Sept. 15, 1896, as a publicity stunt for the Missouri, Kansas & Texas railroad. Over 30,000 spectators gathered at the crash site, named "Crush" for MKT passenger agent William G. Crush, who conceived the idea. About 4 p.m. the trains were sent speeding toward each other. Contrary to mechanics' predictions, the steam boilers exploded on impact, propelling pieces of metal into the crowd. Two persons were killed and many others injured, including Jarvis Deane of Waco, who was photographing the event. (1976)

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