I have to tell you that this marketing scheme is one of the craziest that I have ever come across in Texas history. I’m pretty sure you will think so as well!
As a publicity stunt for the Katy Railroad, two railroad engines were deliberately crashed in a head-on collision at the non-existent town of Crush, Texas.
“The collision, intended as publicity for the railroad, was planned and promoted for months in advance. The locomotives, Old No. 999 and Old No. 1001, were displayed prominently during tours throughout the state….
“Rather that the usual entrance fees charged for major public attractions, Katy officials announced that they would charge no admission for the well publicized event. Further, they promised that food concession contractors would not be allowed to sell lunches at extortionate prices, and that containers of “fresh Waco water” would be abundant and free. The only fee would be the train fare required to transport the many thousands of spectators to the crash site. Even these fares were offered at bargain rates–none over $5 from anywhere in Texas. As a result, the excursion trains were so packed that some people were obliged to ride on top of the cars for lack of room inside…” (Ride on top??)
Elaborate preparations and extensive publicity brought a crowd of more than 40,000 to witness the event.
After a two-mile run, the two engines, the bright green No. 999 and the brilliant red No. 1001, met in a fiery crash.
Of course, no one predicted that flying debris would kill two people and injure many more even though that would have been my biggest fear, you understand.
By the nightfall, the site was abandoned. In the early twentieth century, Scott Joplin commemorated the event in his march, Great Crush Collision. Today, only a historical marker remains to prove that the Crash at Crush actually happened one long-ago September.