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   xoxoxoBruce  Thursday Jul 4 01:38 AM

July 4th, 2019 : Head On

ON SEPTEMBER 15, 1896, TWO locomotives crashed head on 14 miles north of Waco, Texas. The wreck near Waco was the brainchild of William George Crush, a passenger agent for the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, better known as the “Katy Railroad.” The Katy had been struggling to regain its financial footing following the Panic of 1893 and the appropriately named Crush was tasked with finding a way to attract new passengers to the railroad. Crush offered a deal where people could pay two dollars to ride the Katy to the wreck from anywhere in Texas.

Crush secured two old steam locomotives, Nos. 999 and 1001, and painted them red and green. Railroad employees then built a stretch of track between three hillsides that formed a natural amphitheater, perfect for viewing the wreck. Crush expected a crowd of 20,000 people to come to the event, so he built a temporary town and called it “Crush.” To support the thousands of spectators he drilled water wells, set up a borrowed circus tent to house a restaurant, and built a wooden jail in case people got out of hand. He even hired 200 constables to keep the peace.

On September 15, people began to arrive at Crush aboard trains that would steam into town every few minutes. By 4 p.m., more than 40,000 people had arrived, far more than Crush’s original estimate, making Crush the second-largest city in Texas, at least for a few hours.

Joe Connolly staged more than 70 wrecks and destroyed at least 146 locomotives between 1896 and 1932. He even earned the nickname “Head-On Joe.”
Connolly began to criss-cross the country putting on wrecks from Boston to Los Angeles, Tampa to Salt Lake City. According to Reisdorff, he also found ways to add to the spectacle, including strapping dynamite to the front of the locomotives and filling freight cars behind the engines with gasoline and hot coals so the vehicles would be engulfed in flames after they derailed. Connolly and other train wreckers also liked to paint names and phrases on the sides of the trains for different political candidates or causes so that spectators could cheer for their respective locomotive. One wreck in 1932 featured “Hoover” versus “Roosevelt.”

The last staged train wreck for public viewing was in 1935, but that was not the last time people crashed two locomotives on purpose. In 1951, two steam locomotives were wrecked in Colorado in front of the cameras for the movie Denver and Rio Grande, a western-themed film about the construction of the railroad of the same name.

Carruthers  Thursday Jul 4 10:04 AM

That nudged a vague memory to the front of my cranium.

I had a feeling something similar was arranged over here and found that it was. Well, sort of...

In the nineteen eighties there was a lot of fuss about nuclear fuel rods being transported on trains from ports in the south to the nuclear facility at Windscale (name since changed, I believe) on the Cumbrian coast.

In an attempt to demonstrate the strength of the nuclear flasks used, a locomotive and three carriages was crashed into one plus the transporting wagon.

Tech quality is somewhat poor but good enough.

BBC News report...

And if you want the full post event PR job, look no further...

xoxoxoBruce  Friday Jul 5 12:23 AM

Yeah, we had a go round over transporting those fuel rod containers over the road. No no you must not travel the highway that circumvents our town, some of the clickitys might escape and hitchhike to my house 20 miles away. Stupid people envisioning mushroom clouds from a traffic accident.

BigV  Saturday Jul 6 01:12 AM

Both videos quite interesting, thank you Carruthers.

tombstone  Saturday Jul 13 06:32 AM

4th photo down. Men and boys. One tiny boy. No females. Interesting.

xoxoxoBruce  Saturday Jul 13 11:03 AM

Of course, women spent there whole lives trying to avoid "train wrecks".
Besides, they all paid between $3 and $5 to attend and women weren't allowed to have money.

Gravdigr  Saturday Jul 13 11:29 AM

Originally Posted by tombstone View Post
4th photo down. Men and boys. One tiny boy. No females. Interesting.
It's not time to clean up the train wreck yet.

The wimmins do that after they serve the sammiches they made down to the sammich tent.

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