It's always interesting to learn about the history of where we live. Often times, we hear of fascinating stories, people, and events we had no idea existed. As one of the oldest parts of the country, New England is filled with centuries of history and folklore. But have you heard of the sticky situation that fell on Bostonians when faced with the Great Molasses Flood?

What was the Great Molasses Flood?

The Great Molasses Flood occurred over 100 years ago in Boston, Massachusetts' North End on January 15, 1919. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, a huge storage tank capable of holding up to two-and-a-half million gallons of molasses collapsed, sending two million gallons of the substance flowing down the street, destroying property, and taking lives.

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Boston Public Library, Creative Commons (Public Domain)

What caused the Great Molasses Flood?

Britannica explains that at the time of the Molasses Flood, there was a high demand for molasses, as it was used to make industrial alcohol. The storage tank was therefore massive, measuring over 50 feet high with a diameter of 90 feet.

Since the molasses demand was so high, the huge tank was also built quickly, which could've been why it faced a premature demise. According to Britannica, the tank was prone to leaking and made strange rumbling noises, so it likely wasn't as stable as it should've been. elaborates further, citing the thinness of the tank's steel walls and a flawed rivet design as flaws.

What happened during the Great Molasses Flood?

When the molasses tank collapsed at around 12:30pm on the 15th, it unleashed a wave of molasses around 160 feet wide and 15-40 feet high, according to reports mentioned on Britannica. The flood leveled buildings, destroyed cars and city blocks, killed 21 people, and injured over 150 others. According to, even horses were trapped in the sticky substance, and it would be decades before the smell of molasses stopped lingering in the air.

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