Boston’s catastrophic toffee-apple tsunami of 1919
Because of its natural sweet aroma and nice taste, molasses has been steadily produced in the United States since it was first brought into the country during the early 1700s. But in the year 1919, a big tragedy involving tons of the refined sugar cane hit the city of Boston. The catastrophe which was later called Toffee-Apple tsunami left a total of 21 dead and over 150 people injured.
The incident, which was highly recorded, happened on the 15th of January 1919, when tons of the sweet flavoring exploded into the streets of Boston. According to reports during those times, the wave of sticky substance reached the height of about 15 feet and rushed through the streets with the speed of over 35 mph. It knocked everything down, flattened the surrounding buildings, and created a slew of goo in the streets.
What caused the molasses to explode?
The shipment of molasses just came in two days before the tragic incident. It was acquired from Caribbean producers to supply the whole city and state and arrived in thick viscous form. The tank is usually secured about 50 feet above the ground for protection.
It was a normal procedure to heat the viscous molasses so it is easier to refine. The rapid temperature changes and the extreme cold of the previous nights caused the molasses to expand in its container. Heating it created extreme pressure inside the iron cast container which is why the container exploded and caused a tsunami.
Why was the syrup so deadly?
Workers working below the container were the primary casualties of the Toffee-Apple tsunami. The iron cast containers exploded very quickly that they were not given any prior notice. It also hit nearby structures causing them to be completely flattened down. Pedestrians got caught in the deluge, got stuck, and drowned from the sticky substance.
The road was in an utter mess because of the deluge of molasses. The impact can be seen for a few hundred kilometers of the city and it took weeks for Boston to get rid of the goo. A considerable amount of time for the cleanup was required and City officials determined it would have been avoidable if the molasses were shipped during summer.