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Boston History Lesson: Great Molasses Flood

Around lunchtime on January 15, 1919, a 50-foot tall tank of molasses ruptured and spilled out onto the streets of the North End.  According to History.com, more than two million gallons of thick liquid poured out like a tsunami wave and reached speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. The molasses destroyed buildings, knocked an elevated train off of its tracked, trapped horses, killed 21 people with 150 more injures.

According to the author of The Dark Tide – The Great Molasses Flood of 1919, Stephen Puleo the tank was built a few years before and was known to have a leak.  Evidently, kids in the neighborhood would fill up pails of molasses so it was no surprise that “a situation” could arise.  It was determined by structural engineers that the tank’s wall were way to think to hold the heavy contents.  A new shipment had arrived, the walls burst and the rest is history.

Image via the City of Boston Instagram

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About the Author

Maureen Dahill

Maureen Dahill is the editor of Caught in Southie and Caught in Dot and a lifelong resident of South Boston sometimes mistaken for a yuppie. Hockey mom, yoga enthusiast, lover of red wine and binge watching TV series. Mrs. Peter G. Follow her @MaureenCaught.