100 years ago today on January 15th, 1919, one of Boston's biggest tragedies happened; "The Great Molasses Flood of 1919". What happened was the Purity Distilling Company located in Boston's North End had one of their storage tanks burst, sending millions of gallons of molasses pouring out into the streets and neighborhood. Reports say that the molasses came rushing out in what was described as a tidal wave of sorts and it traveled at about 35mph. The molasses out-pour had a huge impact on the area and sent people and vehicles hurling in various directions. At the time, the Boston Globe reported that it was so fierce that the impact of the molasses even sent one truck hurling into Boston Harbor.
This tragedy resulted in the injury of 150 people, 21 deaths, and some horse fatalities as well.
In spirit of today's 100th anniversary of the great flood, we had the absolute privilege of talking to historian and author of the book "Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919", Stephen Puleo about this tragedy and how it shook the city of Boston. His book captures the truth about what happened, how it happened, what the aftermath was, and it's impact on Boston's North End and the city as a whole. He tells the true accounts and predicaments the victims of the flood were facing in this gripping book. Take a listen to our discussion with Puleo:
The inside cover description of "Dark Tide" is as follows:
"Around noon on January 15, 1919, a group of firefighters was playing cards in Boston's North End when they heard a tremendous crash. It was like roaring surf, one of them said later. Like a runaway two-horse team smashing through a fence, said another. A third firefighter jumped up from his chair to look out a window-"Oh my God!" he shouted to the other men, "Run!"A 50-foot-tall steel tank filled with 2.3 million gallons of molasses had just collapsed on Boston's waterfront, disgorging its contents as a 15-foot-high wave of molasses that at its outset traveled at 35 miles an hour. It demolished wooden homes, even the brick fire station. The number of dead wasn't known for days. It would be years before a landmark court battle determined who was responsible for the disaster."
To get your very own copy of "Dark Tide: The Great Molasses Flood of 1919" by Stephen Puleo, you can purchase it HERE on Amazon.
It was a pleasure having Stephen Puleo on our program to teach us a little bit about history!
P.S. Rumor has it that for years and years after the flood, on a hot summer day in the North End, you could still smell a faint scent of molasses!