Crush, Texas, was a temporary "city" established as a one-day publicity stunt in 1896. William George Crush, general passenger agent of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (popularly known as the Katy), conceived the idea to demonstrate a train wreck as a spectacle. No admission was charged, and train fares to the crash site were at the reduced rate of US$2 from any location in Texas. As a result about 40,000 people showed up on September 15, 1896 making the new town of Crush, Texas, temporarily the second-largest city in the state.
Two wells were drilled at the site three miles south of the town of West in McLennan County. Circus tents from Ringling Brothers were erected as well as a grandstand. The train engines were painted bright green (engine #999) and bright red (engine #1001), both 4-4-0 American locomotives (two pilot axles, two drive axles, and nothing under the firebox). A special track was built alongside the Katy track so that there was no chance a runaway train could get onto the main line. The trains toured the state for months in advance, advertising the event. On the day of the event, 40,000 people showed up to the new town of Crush, Texas. The Katy Railroad offered spectators from anywhere in the state of Texas train rides to the site for $2.
About 4:00 pm on September 15, 1896, after police had pushed the crowd back to what was thought to be a safe distance, the two trains rolled to opposite ends of a four mile track. The engineers and crew opened the steam to a prearranged setting, rode for exactly 4 turns of the drive wheels, and jumped from the trains. The trains each reached a speed of about 45 MPH (72 KPH) by the time they met near the anticipated spot.
The impact caused both engine boilers to explode. Debris, some pieces as large as half a drive-wheel, was blown hundreds of feet into the air. Some of the debris came down among the spectators, killing three and injuring several more, including event photographer Jarvis "Joe" Deane, ...