A weird enough story I had to share it again.
I have a distinct memory of being a child and reading through a relatively thick book at my grandparents’ house.
It was pinkish and yellow, and the cover looked like a newspaper. The book was a collection of random weird history and science facts- the Lincoln ghost, who was buried at Grant’s Tomb, stuff like that.
One of the blurbs that the book covered was the Boston Molasses Disaster- which for some unknown reason has been poking in and out of my consciousness for the past week or two.
January 15, 1919 was a relatively warm day for Boston that year. The temperture hit close to 40 that day, which meant that people were moving around the city.
The Purity Distilling Company had a storage facility for molasses on Commercial Street. While molasses is currently known primarily for baking purposes, at the time it was one of the most commonly used sweetners; it was much more common than white sugar and was a primary ingredient in alcohol production among other uses.
The molasses tank was capable of holding up to 2 million gallons of molasses when full. During the disaster, the tank collapsed, causing the contents of the tank to wash through the neighborhood. The resulting wave of molasses was high enough and strong enough to destroy the elevated train tracks and throw a car completely off of the tracks.
The wave was strong enough to kill 21 people and several horses. Scores of people were injured as they attempted to fight the wave and became mired in the molasses. Assistance was provided by the Navy, Boston police, and the Red Cross. Volunteers resorted to entering the wave themselves to attempt to free those stuck in the molasses.
It took roughly 2 weeks for crews to clean up the site. The cause of the collapse is still not entirely understood, but it is thought that industrial standards were not met for the tank design which coupled with the air temperture to create pressures inside the holding area that exceed what the tank could stand.
It is said that the area still smells of molasses on warm days.