The Disaster Of The “Toffee-Apple” Tsunami

In 1919, The Great Molasses Flood hit Boston, Massachusetts and surely is one of the strangest man-made disasters the world has ever witnessed. What is Molasse you ask? It is a thick black treacle liquid made from refining sugar cane or sugar beets. Sugarcane molasse is mostly used as a sweetener or flavoring foods in the United States as it is very nice in taste and aroma, it is the main ingredient when making commercial fine brown sugar.

Well, we all love a little sugar, but this disaster was extremely deadly. On the 15th January 1919, the wave of syrup that exploded out of the refining factory caused 21 deaths and injured over 150 other people. It even flattened whole buildings and ruined streets completely. But how could syrup be so deadly?

upload.wikimedia.org

A 90-foot wide cast iron tank was being used to contain two and a half million gallons of crude molasses, that the United States Industrial Alcohol Company’s refining factory had just received two days prior from their Caribbean rum manufacturers. The tank was actually located about 50 feet in the air, high above the street level. This meant that when the cast did explode, its contents came bursting out within a matter of seconds and did not give the workers any prior notice. This caused a huge wave of sticky substance to crash down the streets, reports say it was 15 feet high and hurtled down the roads at speeds over 35mph.

The problem was a rapid change in Boston’s overnight temperatures when the molasse had arrived it was quickly heated in its cast iron container to make it easier to be refined. The drop in temperature would have caused the substance to expand, like a cake and explode open the container. You see when you heat the molasses it makes it more liquid and easier to move into a storage tank, but when it is colder it becomes a thicker syrup. Researchers claim had this shipment arrived in the summer this disaster would never have happened, or not have claimed as many lives.

The thick syrup mess that came cruising down the streets of Boston easily entangled pedestrians. The substance engulfed them completely, it was so sticky they could not get out and people that got stuck drowned. In fact, survivors who did make it to the hospital were described as walking toffee apples!

Next Article
ADVERTISEMENT
  • Every Panda In The World Is Owned By China

    No matter where the panda is or in what realm of the world he is wandering, one thing they all have in common is they are actually all owned by the Chinese government. And they make quite a hefty sum of money from leasing them out every year. The panda...

    Read More
  • Switzerland Has Accidentally Invaded Liechtenstein Three Times

    You may not have heard of the small country of Lichtenstein, a tiny country in central Europe which is landlocked by Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. It is a microstate, and still has a constitutional monarchy with the Prince of Liechtenstein at the top. But that didn’t stop Switzerland accidentally invading...

    Read More
  • Prehistoric Frogs Show Us Life From 99 Million Years Ago

    Scientist and archeologists together have been able to shine a light into a lost world, finding frogs trapped in a sticky amber resin from over 99 million years ago. These frogs have been preserved in the resin and have most likely been there since the end of the Age of the Dinosaurs. [caption id="attachment_4700" align="aligncenter"...

    Read More
  • Walking Through A Door Can Cause A Loss In Memory

    It has happened to all of us, we think we know what we are looking for and suddenly you do not. As you enter the next room, you are left wondering why on earth did you walk through the door? You run upstairs to grab your phone before going out, and then when you get...

    Read More
  • When One Team Was Defending Both Nets

    When it comes to strange football matches there have been many, some point to the 31 goals Australia put passed American Samoa or the infamous AS Adema 149-0 win over SO l’Emyrne. But actually, the strangest match of football was between Barbados and Grenada during the 1994 Shell Caribbean Cup. ...

    Read More
  • Ball Lightning The Mysterious Glowing Phenomenon

    For years ball lightning has stumped scientists and caused panic all around the world. Many times it has been mistaken for UFOs and caused confusion, even causing damage to homes. And for many centuries it was a mystery, it made no sense when confronted with the norms of science. Was it something supernatural? [caption id="attachment_4691"...

    Read More
  • The Infamous Uranium Thief

    Whenever people debate about nuclear power plants, one thing comes up as a heated subject: nuclear materials are dangerous and having them in the area could mean they fall into the wrong hands. Well, that is exactly what happened in a power plant in North Carolina during the 70s, when two whole drums of enriched...

    Read More
  • Marine Snails Have The Strongest Teeth In The World

    When it comes to strong natural materials, you may think of diamonds or gold. Maybe if you are a scientist then you may think of the amazing spider silk from their webs, but you would all still be wrong. In fact, the answer may come as a big surprise: marine snail teeth are the strongest...

    Read More