The Great Molasses Flood
An account of the January 1919 molasses tank explosion in Boston, Massachusetts, seeks to uncover why the tank blew up and who was to blame through primary sources and archival photographs that show the extent of the damage.
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January 15, 1919 was an unseasonably warm day. Forty-three degrees if you can believe it. And folks were just going about their workday as usual. Then, at 12:40 in the afternoon, the strangest thing occurred. The molasses tank, located next to Boston Harbor and the train yard, burst wide open. Instantly 2,319,525 gallons of molasses spilled onto the streets, lifting homes, destroying elevated train tracks, and ultimately killing 21 people and wounding countless others. A 40-foot wave of molasses makes a mark, and when all was said and done folks had to figure out who was to blame. Was it an act of terrorism (anarchists were in full swing so this wasn’t a crazy theory) or the fault of the tank? Whatever it was, it was an event that lasted long in the memories of those involved, even after the sticky sweet smell had faded.
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