The 1919 Boston Molasses Flood: The forgotten tragedy too bizarre for the history books
2013-06-24 0:00

By John Platt | Mother Nature Network


A 30-foot wave of molasses claimed the lives of 21 people and injured 150 more.

The 21 people who died in Boston on Jan. 15, 1919, had little warning of the events that were about to occur. According to an article published the next day in The New York Times (pdf), the only sound before the disaster was "a dull, muffled roar." That was the noise made by the explosion of a massive tank of molasses owned by the Purity Distilling Company. Moments later, more than 2 million gallons of hot, thick, sticky molasses flooded the surrounding streets, destroying buildings, overturning wagons and trucks, and even knocking an elevated train off its tracks. Witnesses say the wave of molasses reached as high as 30 feet tall and it traveled as fast as 35 miles per hour.

For the people in the surrounding streets and buildings, there was no escape. Twenty-one people died, including three firemen who were killed when their nearby firehouse collapsed. Another 150 people were injured, and several horses were also killed. Police, a local Army battalion, the Red Cross and even the Navy arrived to help the survivors, but rescuers were hampered by the sticky goo that filled the streets. It took four days to find all of the victims, and another two weeks to clean up the molasses mess. Even today, nearly a century later, some people say the neighborhood still smells like molasses on hot summer days.

This terrible event has come to be known as the Great Boston Molasses Disaster, one of the most bizarre — and least talked about — tragedies in U.S. history. As Stephen Puleo writes in his excellent book, "Dark Tide: The Great Molasses Flood of 1919," it’s possible that the history books rarely take notice of the tragedy because no one "prominent" died that day. "The survivors did not go on to become famous," Puleo writes. "They were mostly immigrants and city workers who returned to their workaday lives, recovered from injuries, and provided for their families."



[...]

Read the full article at: mnn.com



Related Articles


Latest News from our Front Page

The Jewish Roots of Leonard Nimoy and What the ‘Live Long and Prosper’ Hand Symbol Really Means
2015-02-28 0:20
Leonard Nimoy first saw what became the famous Vulcan salute, “live long and prosper,” as a child, long before “Star Trek” even existed. The placement of the hands comes from a childhood memory, of an Orthodox Jewish synagogue service in Boston. The man who would play Spock saw the gesture as part of a blessing, and it never left him. “Something ...
Baby born still INSIDE his amniotic sac is hailed a ‘medical miracle’ by doctors [Video]
2015-02-27 22:46
What an incredible miracle… Not only was the little boy three months early – he was born inside his amniotic sac. I’ve never heard of this happening before. If you look at the picture, you can see him clearly with his little arms and legs curled up. He was still being given oxygen by his mom until the sac was ...
California Infant Dies after 8 Vaccines, Family Gets Him Back from Hospital Cremated
2015-02-27 21:55
Parents in California are distraught after losing their infant son after being vaccinated. He died in his sleep and was taken to the hospital already deceased. Hospital staff ruled his death as sudden infant death syndrome. The couple was told an autopsy was required to be performed on their son. After returning home, waiting to get an update, they never received ...
DNA: Data-storage for eternity
2015-02-27 20:57
How can we preserve our knowledge today for the next millennia? ETH researchers have found a way to store information in the form of DNA, preserving it for nearly an eternity. Scrolls thousands of years old provide us with a glimpse into long-forgotten cultures and the knowledge of our ancestors. In this digital era, in contrast, a large part of our ...
Hypercleanliness is making us sick - Children develop allergies and eczema
2015-02-27 20:31
Could using a dishwashing machine increase the chances your child will develop allergies? That's what some provocative new research suggests — but don't tear out your machine just yet. The study involved 1,029 Swedish children (ages 7 or 8) and found that those whose parents said they mostly wash the family's dishes by hand were significantly less likely to develop eczema, ...
More News »