TRIVIAL PURSUITS: What caused a disastrous flood in Boston in 1919?

What caused a disastrous flood in Boston on January 15, 1919?

Shortly after noon in Boston’s North End, a rusty, already-leaking tank containing 2.3 million gallons of fermenting molasses exploded. Metal rivets 1/2 inch thick were torn apart and flew through air like shrapnel. Some of them cut the steel girders of an elevated railway.

According to Boston Discovery Guide, the force of the explosion caused some buildings to collapse and knocked others off their foundations. It also created a vacuum immediately afterwards that destroyed even more buildings, dragged a truck across a street, and pulled a train off the tracks.

The explosion sent what an eyewitness called a “30 foot wall of goo” down Commercial Street at a speed estimated to be 35 mph. Molasses covered the neighborhood and spread out across downtown, two- to three-feet thick, burying and drowning those in its path.

A total of 21 men, women, and children, 12 horses, and uncounted numbers of dogs and cats died in the Great Molasses Flood. The disaster injured at least another 150 people.

You can read more about it here.