The 1896 Train Crash At Crush, Texas
September 15th, 1896 was the day two giant steaming locomotives crashed head on as part of a publicity stunt that went terribly wrong.Crush, Texas was set up as a temporary town for a one time event that took place in September of 1896. This was just a few miles down the road from West, Texas in McLennan County. William George Crush came up with the idea to crash two steaming locomotives as a publicity stunt to demonstrate the importance of train safety. The event was free to attend, and the public could hop on board either of the two trains from anywhere in Texas for just $2 dollars. The Two trains from the Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad toured the state for months promoting the event, then brought a crowd of over 40,000 people to the temporary town. For the day, Crush, Texas was the second largest population in the Lone Star state.
During the events conception, none of the planners figured there was the danger of an explosion. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened. Circus tents from Ringling Brothers, as well as a grand stand was set up for the spectators. The event was delayed for over an hour that day as police could not get the crowd to back away from the tracks to a safe distance. Once everything was ready the two trains began backing up over a four-mile track to begin their collision course for the crowd.
Crews on both trains opened the steam to a pre-arranged setting, and as the trains reached 45 mph, the men jumped off when they came within sight of each other. Upon impact just as the crowd witnessed the crash, the boilers on both trains suddenly exploded. Debris was hurled hundreds of feet in the air, and to the horror of the crowd, it was thrown towards the grand stands killing and injuring spectators as giant burning pieces from both trains crashed down upon them.
William George Crush was fired by the railroad that same day, but re-hired when the consensus was reached that none of the promoters caused the explosion or meant for harm to come to the spectators. They simply did not plan on the boilers exploding.
Known since as the "Crash at Crush, Texas", this event in Texas history has been picked up by the History Channel, and covered in a featured series called "Wild West Tech".