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January 15 is the Anniversary of the ‘Great Molasses Flood’ of 1919 in Boston

Molasses Vats
Getty Images, photo by Three Lions

It was the ‘Great Molasses Flood‘ of 1919 in Boston, Massachusetts. It was January 15th in the early afternoon and the temperature was warm for that time of year, 45 degrees, up from the single digits just a couple of day before. The United States Industrial Alcohol Company had two and a half million gallons of molasses brewing fifty feet above the street that was slated to make rum. No one expected what happened next. The giant tank holding all that molasses ruptured and sent the entire contents on to the street in a matter of seconds. There was an explosion with fragments of the tank thrown in the air and two and a half million gallons of molasses, 8 to 15 feet high, running down the street at 35 miles per hour. Entire buildings were destroyed and 150 people were injured and 21 died.

Once the weeks of clean up was over lawsuits were filed and the court case went on for 6 years with 3,000 people testifying. When it was all over, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs with the company having to pay nearly a million dollars in damages.

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