This section is from the "A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods" book, by George S. Cole. Also available from Amazon: A complete dictionary of dry goods and history of silk, cotton, linen, wool and other fibrous substances,: Including a full explanation of the modern processes ... together with various useful tables.
Crash. A general term used to denote a strong coarse linen fabric; chiefly used for toweling, tarpaulins, packing, etc. Crash and towels, both in their use and title, have remained unchanged for a long period, even if they have ever known change. The Egyptians 4,000 years ago wove crash and toweling out of the same fibre that they are made of at the present day; wove it out of finer threads and made it more durable than it is possible to do with our modern machinery and acquired skill in weaving. It is often assumed that manufactures can be most successfully conducted in factories, and that modern machinery has quite superseded the old-fashioned, but ever deft human hand and fingers. This is an error. Some of the most exquisite linen manufacturers of the world were wrought by the ancient Egyptian peoples, and are carried on even yet by the hands of peasants in remote valleys and mountain solitudes. It is also an error to suppose that Ireland grows more flax and produces more linen or more crash than other countries. The latest correct statistics show as follows: Flax grown on the Continent of Europe, 3,700,000 acres; Ireland 123,000 acres (about one-half the area of an ordinary county in any of the States), and in the United States 1,284,812 acres. Of this Minnesota raised 167,264 acres; Dakota 488,993; Iowa, 265,000; Nebraska 150,932, besides a large acreage in the western part of Wisconsin. Ireland in 1891 imported 90,000 tons of flax from Russia and Belguim, and this imported fiber is better than they raise at home. Ireland manufactures less than one-fourth of the linen produced in the world, and but an infinitesimal part of the crash consumed in this country. In no country in the world does the cultivation of flax attain such large dimensions as in Russia. Russia alone produces more flax than all other countries of Europe combined. Out of the total area sown in Europe with flax, and amounting to about 5,700,000 acres, more than 3,700,000 acres are sown in Russia. Notice at the same time must be taken of the fact that while in all European countries without exception the area of land under the cultivation of flax is being annually more and more reduced, it is in Russia, on the contrary, being increased. The total quantity of flax fibre produced in the whole of Europe is estimated to be 1,354,000,000 pounds. The share of the total quantity which Russia annually produces is exactly two-thirds. It is from Russia that the crash manufacturers in the United States procure their unbleached linen yarn for the manufacture of toweling, though there is no crash manufactured in this country above 14 cents per yard wholesale. Within a radius of 400 miles of Minneapolis, Minn., there was raised in 1891 over 500,000 acres of flax. The new linen mills established in that city manufacture several grades of crash which are pronounced to be superior to that of European mills. Each piece of cloth sent out is branded: "This crash is guarranteed. Made by the Minneapolis Linen Mill, of pure American flax-fibre. It is superior to the imported fabric." These mills turn out 2,000 yards of cloth per day, with a capacity of 6,000 yards. They also manufacture twine of an excellent quality. [See Linen]