Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Fast as Molasses
(photo source: here)
Last night, at a lecture my friend gave on lesser-known Boston history, I learned about molasses. Apparently, in 1919, there was what is known as The Great Molasses Flood of 1919. Yes, I said flood.
Apparently, over 2.5 million gallons of molasses came rushing through Boston in a tidal wave, which measured at a height of 50 feet (!) and a speed of 35 miles per hour. People died, buildings were pushed off their foundations, a train was pushed off its track.
Can you imagine this? I've been trying to imagine it ever since I heard the story.
Why did they have so much molasses, you ask? Apparently, it was a big trade item for Boston. They would sell it, and people elsewhere would turn it into ethyl alcohol and make explosives out of it. So weird.
Anyway, they had this giant silo-type thing in the North End, and it was pretty terribly made. Instead of fixing it, the company just painted it molasses-color so you wouldn't see it leak. (Brilliant!) But leak it did.
It wasn't like, yummy molasses. But poor kids used to come every day and let some drip drip drip into wee cups. When the silo-thing exploded (remember, explosives?), those little kids were some of the casualties. Poor kids.
Also, poor Bostonians who had to clean up. In some places it was 3 feet deep. It was hard for me to even clean up the few drops that spilled in my pantry. Some people say that on hot days, the city streets still bleed molasses.