|The Demography of Texas
Population (Jan. 2004, State Data Center estimate) 22,490,022
Population 2000 (U.S. Census count) 20,851,820
Population 1990 (U.S. Census count) 16,986,510
Population increase 2000–2004 7.9%
Anglo 11,074,716 53.11%
Hispanic 6,669,666 31.99%
Black 2,421,653 11.61%
Other 685,785 3.29%
Population density (2003): 84.5 per square mile
Voting-age population (2002): 15,5114,289
Ten largest cities
Houston (Harris Co.) 2,033,400
San Antonio (Bexar Co.) 1,228,512
Dallas (Dallas Co.) 1,211,437
Austin (Travis Co.) 681,437
Fort Worth (Tarrant Co.) 592,836
El Paso (El Paso Co.) 588,452
Arlington (Tarrant Co.) 361,717
Corpus Christi (Nueces Co.) 278,708
Plano (Collin Co.) 252,368
Garland (Dallas Co.) 219,070
Number of counties: 254
Number of incorporated cities: 1,210
Number of cities of 100,000 population or more: 25
Number of cities of 50,000 population or more: 58
Number of cities of 10,000 population or more: 221
The Natural Environment
Area (total): 268,581 sq. miles
Land area: 261,797 sq. miles
Water area: 6,784 sq. miles
Geographic center: About 15 miles northeast of Brady in northern McCulloch
Highest point: Guadalupe Peak (8,749 ft.) in Culberson County in far West Texas.
Lowest point: Gulf of Mexico (sea level).
Normal average annual precipitation range: From 60.57 inches at Jasper
County in East Texas to 9.43 inches in El Paso.
Record highest temperature:
Seymour Aug. 12, 1936 120°F
Monahans June 28, 1994 120°F
It was a publicity stunt that will never be attempted again. The "Crash at Crush" was
the intentional head-on crash of two Katy locomotives on Sept. 15, 1896, at a point
just south of West, in Central Texas. The results were not what the railroad officials
A locomotive crash staged several months earlier by the Columbus and Hocking
Valley Railroad near Cleveland, Ohio, had been a great success, attracting 40,000
spectators. Katy Passenger Agent William George Crush enthusiastically proposed a
similar spectacular event in Texas. The spot chosen was in McLennan County in a
shallow valley with hills rising on three sides, forming a natural amphitheater. Agent
Crush, for whom the event's site was named, helped supervise the preparations for
the Texas collision, and the event was well advertised months in advance.
Elaborate Preparations Made
The Katy did not charge admission to the spectacle; they planned to make money
selling seats on their trains, at two dollars per round-trip ticket from anywhere in the
state, to people wanting transportation to the event.
A special four-mile track was laid for the collision run. Two telegraph offices were
constructed for the occasion. Two water wells were drilled at the site, and the railroad
hauled in five tank cars of water and several tons of ice for the crowd. The water was
piped to the top of a hill on the property, and several hundred faucets were placed at
Workmen also constructed a grandstand for officials, three speakers' stands, a
platform for reporters and a bandstand. A big lunch stand was set up in a tent
borrowed from Ringling Brothers circus, with food service supervised by the Katy's
superintendent of eating-house service. A carnival midway sprang up, with medicine
shows, game booths, cigar stands and lemonade and soft-drink stands to entertain
the spectators as they waited for the show to begin. Overlooking it all was a giant
sign, informing all comers that this was "Crush, Texas." The day before the crash,
the Katy's master mechanic McElvaney and locomotive engineer Cain staged a
speed test of the two old Baldwin engines, No. 1001 and No. 999, to coordinate
arrival at the collision point, which was to be at milepost 881, 14 miles north of Waco
and three miles south of West. During the actual event, the two train crews were to
jump from the trains soon after they started their run.
Safety Precautions Taken
Almost all the spectators were to be located on a hill at least 200 yards away, at a
point from which they would have, according to The Dallas Morning News of Sept. 14,
1896, "a perfect view of the destruction." Only photographers and reporters were to
be allowed within 100 yards of the track. The News quoted Agent Crush as saying
the officials were expecting a crowd of between 20,000 to 25,000. Three hundred
special policemen were brought in to keep order.
The Crowd Gathers
On Tuesday morning, the day of the event, The News feverishly reported that the
Katy was sending 30 passenger trains out all over Texas to bring in spectators for
the 4:00 p.m. collision. The group that eventually gathered was estimated to be
between 30,000 and more than 40,000. The News reported that a crowd that big had
never before been seen in Texas, except for Tennessee Day at the State Fair
several years before. Agent Crush, "on a prancing charger," kept an eye on it all.
At 5:00 p.m., one hour late, the two engines, each pulling six cars, slowly met at the
point of collision and were photographed. Then the trains backed slowly up the low
hills to their starting points. The Sept. 16 issue of The News, describes what
happened next: "The smoke was pouring from their funnels in a great black streak
and the popping of the steam could be distinctly heard for the distance of a mile.
People were standing on tiptoe from every point of vantage trying to see every
movement of the wheels that were so soon to roll to destruction ... At 10 minutes
after 5 Crush raised his hat and a great cheer went up from the throats of all the
"The rumble of the two trains, faint and far off at first, but growing nearer and more
distinct with each fleeting second, was like the gathering force of a cyclone. Nearer
and nearer they came, the whistles of each blowing repeatedly and the torpedoes
which had been placed on the track exploding in almost a continuous round like the
rattle of musketry. ... They rolled down at a frightful rate of speed to within a quarter
of a mile of each other. Nearer and nearer as they approached the fatal meeting
place the rumbling increased, the roaring grew louder ...
"Now they were within ten feet of each other, the bright red and green paint on the
engines and the gaudy advertisements on the cars showing clear and distinct in the
"A crash, a sound of timbers rent and torn, and then a shower of splinters.
"There was just a swift instance of silence, and then as if controlled by a single
impulse both boilers exploded simultaneously and the air was filled with flying missiles
of iron and steel varying in size from a postage stamp to half of a driving wheel ...
"On the photographer's stand, situated not more than 100 feet from the track ... were
grouped the photographers, the reporters of The News and several railroad officials.
One of the photographers, Mr. Dean of Waco, will lose one of his eyes as a result of
a sudden meeting with a small piece of flying steel.
"All that remained of the two engines and twelve cars was a smoking mass of
fractured metal and kindling wood, except one car on the rear of each train, which
had been left untouched. The engines had both been completely telescoped, and
contrary to experience in such cases, instead of rising in the air from the force of the
blow, were just flattened out. There was nothing about the cars big enough to save
except pieces of wood, which were eagerly seized upon and carried home as
And the Unfortunate Aftermath
Railroad officials estimated that each locomotive reached a speed of about 45 miles
an hour just before the crash, producing a collision force equivalent to hitting a
stationary, solid object at 90 miles per hour. Other observers believed that the trains
were going much faster. Two young men and a woman were killed, and at least six
other people were seriously injured by flying debris. The Katy's wrecker trains moved
in quickly and removed the larger wreckage. Souvenir hunters swarmed over the
site, carrying off most of the rest of the wreckage. The railroad settled all claims with
William Crush was fired the evening of the crash, but Katy rehired him the following
day, and he worked for the company until he retired. The "Crash at Crush" was
immortalized by famed Texas ragtime composer Scott Joplin in his march, "Great
Crush Collision," early in the 20th century.
Written by Mary G. Ramos, expanded from an article written for the 1992-1993 Texas
|The Waco Tornado
May 11, 1953
|The Waco Tornado was a tornado measuring F5 on the Fujita scale that struck
Waco, Texas on May 11, 1953.
According to local legend, tornadoes could not touch down in Waco. Most storms in
the area travel from west to east and split around the Waco area. The 1953 storm,
however, traveled against the prevailing winds, and the tornado approached Waco
from the south-southwest.
On the afternoon of May 11, the tornado formed three miles north of Lorena and
leveled a home there. It moved up the I-35 corridor and at 4:32 p.m. entered the city
limits of Waco moving at 30 mph.
At 4:36 p.m. the funnel cloud, over two blocks wide, hit the center of downtown. Many
people on the streets crowded into local businesses for shelter. However few of the
buildings were constructed sturdily enough to withstand the winds, and they
collapsed almost immediately. The best-known example was the six-story R.T. Dennis
furniture store, which crumbled to the ground and killed 30 people inside. Newer
buildings with steel reinforcement, including the 22-story Amicable office building
(now the ALICO building) just across the street, weathered the storm.
Five people were killed in two cars crushed in the street, one of which was crushed
by a traffic light to only 18 inches in height. The Dr Pepper bottling plant, today the
Dr Pepper Museum, was severely damaged.
Bricks from the collapsed structures piled up in the street to a depth of five feet.
Some survivors were trapped under rubble for 14 hours, and several days were
needed to remove the bodies from the rubble. Over 250 homes and 2000 cars were
damaged or destroyed.
114 people were killed in the Waco area, with 597 injured and up to $50 million in
property damage. Over half the dead - 61 - were in a single city block bounded by
4th and 5th streets and Austin and Franklin avenues.
The Waco Tornado remains tied with the 1902 Goliad Tornado as the deadliest in
Texas history and the tenth-deadliest in US history. No deadlier tornado has struck
the US since then, making it the worst storm of the last 50 years and counting. The
storm was one of the primary factors spurring development of a nationwide severe
weather warning system.
The tornado had long-lasting effects on the Waco economy. Waco's population was
approximately 85,000 in 1953 but failed to grow substantially in subsequent years
while nearby cities like Austin boomed tremendously in size.
|The Crash at Crush