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Donnie Does History: Today Marks the 100th Anniversary of the Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919

boston-herald (1)In 1919, a giant tank containing 2.3 million gallons of molasses in Boston’s North End, exploded, creating a god damn molasses Tsunami that rushed down the streets of Boston at 35 miles per hour. So much for the term “slow as molasses.” This tidal wave of sticky goo was 25 ft high at its highest peak and ended up killing 21 people and injuring 150. It also killed a dozen horses who weren’t able to be pulled out of the thick goo.  Truly terrifying stuff. Reminds me of that movie The Blob

This excerpt from the Boston Post about the incident captures just how devestating a molasses flood can be:

(wikipedia) “Molasses, waist deep, covered the street and swirled and bubbled about the wreckage…. Here and there struggled a form—whether it was animal or human being was impossible to tell. Only an upheaval, a thrashing about in the sticky mass, showed where any life was…. Horses died like so many flies on sticky fly-paper. The more they struggled, the deeper in the mess they were ensnared. Human beings—men and women—suffered likewise.

1280px-BostonMolassesDisaster(photo cred Boston Public Library)

Give me an old fashioned ocean tsunami over that shit any day of the week. Here are some other fascinating facts from one of the worst “natural” disasters in Boston’s history.

– Rescue workers and clean-up crews tracked the molasses all around Boston, into subway cars, on payphones, into homes, etc. Apparently everything in the city was sticky for months. If I get a glob of honey stuck on my hands it can ruin my day, so I can’t imagine how much it would’ve sucked living in the city at the time.

– Legend claims that for decades afterwards  area of the flood would still smell of molasses on hot summer days.

– The courts ended up blaming the incident on the U.S. Industrial Alcohol Co., the owners of the tank, for constructing it in a sub-standard manner and forced them to pay $628,000 in damages ($9.08 million in 2018). However, before a verdict was reached, the corporation tried blaming the disaster on terrorists. Who were the main terrorists that everyone liked to scapegoat back in that era? Italian anarchists.

– Luckily the wave of molasses bounced off of Copp’s Hill and headed down towards the harbor. If it had bounced in the other direction, it would have flowed right into the heart of the North End, killings hundreds or thousands of people instead of only 21.
great-boston-molasses-flood-6Stay safe out their friends. The Goo is gone but not forgotten.