On that day (September 15, 1896) it had a population of 40,000 and was the second largest city in Texas. It was a temporary city, created to host a publicity stunt.
Two train engines were painted bright green (engine #999) and bright red (engine #1001)... The trains toured the state for months in advance, advertising the event. On the day of the event, 40,000 people showed up... The Katy Railroad offered spectators from anywhere in the state of Texas train rides to the site for $5 or less.The man who had set up the stunt was immediately fired from the railroad....
About 4:00 pm on September 15, 1896 the two trains rolled back 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 by the time they met very near the anticipated spot.
The impact caused both engine boilers to explode, and debris... was blown hundreds of feet into the air. Some of the debris came down among the spectators killing three, two young men and a woman and injuring several more.
However, in light of a lack of negative publicity, he was rehired the next day.There's a lesson there; I'm just not sure what it is.