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The day the molasses tank exploded

Today is, of course, the anniversary of the Great Molasses Flood, when a poorly maintained tank of molasses on the North End waterfront exploded at 12:40 p.m. on an unseasonably warm January day, sending a viscous brown tsunami down Commercial Street, killing 21 people and several horses, destroying buildings and bending the elevated.

This photo, taken not long after the tank collapse, shows officials looking at the damage from what's left of the el.

The tank before it ruptured:

Molasses tank

A Boston City Archives collection has numerous photos of the destruction caused by the more than 2 million gallons of molasses, a legacy of Boston's role in the triangular trade, which made Boston a leading rum producer, although on the day the tank exploded, the molasses was destined to become industrial alcohol. The 18th Amendment, which would prohibit the consumption of alcohol, was ratified the very next day.

The tank's owners initially tried to blame Italian anarchists for the tank rupture, although as Stephen Puleo explains in Dark Tide, the cause was actually shoddy maintenance - when the tank began leaking molasses before the rupture, the owners had the tank painted a rusty-red color to hide the evidence of leaks (note: the link goes to Amazon, if you buy the book, UHub gets a small payment).

In 2019, on the 100th anniversary of the disaster, people gathered around the tank's outline to remember the victims.

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To a poorly maintained MBTA . History always repeats itself.

Voting closed 9

The reply needs to be "35 mph".

Voting closed 21


Also, I read the book Dark Tide referenced above by Adam and found it very interesting. It does a good job covering the socio-political, industrial, and engineering aspects.

Voting closed 17

This has to be the most gruesome of any unintentional ways to die.

Voting closed 12

There was that Caterpillar employee who died falling into a vat of molten iron *shudders 50 times*

Voting closed 6

Yeah, but that guy knew he was in a hazardous environment. This method could not possibly be anticipated by someone who was just in the area.

Voting closed 3

I would imagine that molten iron would flash all the water in your body into steam within a few hundred milliseconds .

Voting closed 4