Since I talk about this disaster rather a lot, I suppose I ought to just record a few basic details so I can refer to them without exaggerating:
On January 15, 1919, a tank of molasses exploded in Boston’s North End. The explosion caused a huge shockwave that was sufficient to knock houses off their foundations. Shards of metal from the tank were found up to 200 ft. away. Right after the explosion this accident took a very strange turn.
The tank was filled with 2.3 million gallons of molasses. When the tank exploded, the molasses formed a 25-30 ft. wave, that went through the streets of Boston at speeds of around 35 mph. People caught in the wave were either smashed against large objects, or they drowned in the molasses. This strange accident caused 21 deaths and 150 injuries. Rumor has it that, on a hot day in the North End, the air still smells sweet.
[Via Pavan Mickey. More info here or here.]
In the Paleolithic days before widespread internet use, this was just a crazy story we once heard about when I lived in Boston, but no one could say for sure if it was an urban legend or not. I’m pretty sure it was Dave who finally cracked the case, coming across a news story about it while gathering clippings at his awful PR job. I love the internet for making it easy to find things like this now.
One thought on “The Great Molasses Flood of Boston”
For what it’s worth, my boss asked me specifically to dig up the facts about the flood. Whoever was working the BPL Information Desk that day was a saint.
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