Another train-wreck freak was a railroad agent named William George Crush, of the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railway. In 1896 he staged a head-on crash of two trains as a bodacious publicity stunt.
The trains touched noses, then backed up until they were a mile apart. The crew set the engines at full throttle, then jumped out. The trains crashed head on with each going 60 mph. The boilers exploded and three spectators were killed, and several injured. The photographer lost an eye from a flying bolt.
This event is remembered today only because Scott Joplin, later to become famous as the “King of Rag-Time Writers,” published his first instrumental piece to commemorate this event, the “Great Crush Collision March.” He wrote a musical imitation of train sounds in his piano score, and included verbal descriptions of these in the passage:
“The noise of the trains while running at the rate of sixty miles per hour,
Whistling for the crossing,
Noise of the trains
Whistle before the collision
(This last being represented by a two-handed fortissimo chord in the bass.)
William George Crush may not have been a serial train murderer on the order of a Matuska, but he may have had a similar perv, come to think of it!