26 September 2012

The Great Molasses Flood

How's that for the title of a great story? Maybe one that takes place in Candyland??? Or how about Boston?

The first time I heard about the Molasses Flood I thought that the person telling me was pulling my leg. I mean really? A flood of molasses? Well, it's no joke, it really happened.

In January of 1919 there was a huge tank of molasses (with something like 2.3 million gallons of molasses in it) that exploded in the North End sending a huge wave a molasses through the neighborhood and killing 21 people. The cleanup was horrible (can you imagine trying to clean up a neighborhood coated in molasses??). It's a pretty fascinating story. The molasses stored in the tank was bound for an alcohol plant in Cambridge where it was going to be used in the manufacture of Rum. Now, if you remember correctly then you'll remember that Prohibition started in 1920. You can imagine how that might make rum producers a little nervous...There was also an anarchy group that was working on Boston at this time and many people thought they had planted a bomb that blew up the molasses tank (I'm not exactly sure why an anarchy group would want to blow up molasses, but I'm sure they'd have their reasons).

So now that I've piqued your interest in one of the great forgotten tragedies of Boston's history you can read The Great Molasses Flood: Boston 1919 by Deborah Kops. It's a great, short, children's non-fiction. Kops does a good job telling the story simply and in a way that is easy for children (and adults) to understand. And then you can also feel productive because it's a pretty quick read. .

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