The Crash at Crush

June 14, 2018

Public Information Officer


A St. Philip's College Social and Behavioral Sciences faculty member in a department that annually builds the knowledge of 3,500 social sciences students is building the knowledge of people worldwide through social media, networking and a Memorial Day phone interview on an explosive Texas history event.

The faculty member is professor Allen Lee Hamilton, the college's professor of Texas and American History. Our American Stories  is a radio broadcast produced by the Oxford, Miss.-based online platform  Our American Network . Train lines once built buzz for their services by colliding trains that reached the end of their service lives as a live event for the masses, a gladiator-style business activity inspired by the Roman arena environment. Hamilton was the definitive speaking guest selected when the Our American Network  team researched Texas history subject matter experts to support their story on an overbooked promotional festival grounds where 40,000 tourists traveled in to a party designed for 20,000 to view the destruction of two 35-ton trains that had ended their service life---a live version of successful or botched stadium and skyscraper implosions people watch from the safety of their phones today.

As a result, not only is the 11-minute story Loaded to Explode: The Cataclysmic History of Crush Texas now available for review online at the  Our American Network  web page today, interest in Hamilton's previous publications on the event fill in any gaps for summer readers looking for explosive and cautionary Texas and American history content.

For the Texas historical event of 1896, two decommissioned trains went on a regional advance tour to promo their service, their demise, and the next generation of trains. On event day, it was all fun and games until the collision occurred. The trains were not intended to explode, but they did explode and several among the 40,000 festivalgoers died. In keeping with American practices at the time, claims were immediately paid in cash, the project organizer was fired-and-rehired, and similar wildly successful train service marketing events continued for a few more years.

Hamilton provided background on his original published relationships with the history event as he explained the recently completed project.

"Some years ago I had an article on the " Crash at Crush " event published in  Arizona and the West  magazine, and then I was asked to write the entry for it in the Texas State Historical Association's Handbook of Texas. The radio program editor found me through my Facebook Author's page Allen Lee Hamilton, and the  Handbook  article," said Hamilton. 

"Texas history is such a magnificent mosaic of events, both great and small, both profound and comically inconsequential, that there is no end to the stories we can tell," explained Hamilton. "And after all, that's what I do: I tell stories. A historian is not unlike the ancient bards telling stories around the campfires. Humans have always wanted to maintain their links to the past, to know where we came from and why. So in the context of my larger body of work, this is just another piece of the mosaic, another way to reach out to the general public and get them excited about history and college education," Hamilton said.

"The people of  Our American Network  were very pleased with the interview I was asked to give a couple of weeks ago, and we talked about some future projects," said Hamilton. 

Hamilton is also a local community leader in his capacity as the college's faculty member representing higher education on the City Tri-centennial Committee's Intra-University Tricentennial Committee. The college is an educational partner in the yearlong San Antonio Tricentennial Celebration calendar of events, activities and innovative initiatives that honor that historic milestone, highlighting the role that institutions of higher learning have played in the city's 300 years of development. Teaching for 40 years, Hamilton has taught 25,000 students at the college. Hamilton can be reached at 210-486-2480, (Image of St. Philip's College professor of Texas and American History Allen Lee Hamilton is an SPC archival image)