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Did you know that many years ago, a 15 foot high wall of molasses killed 21 people in Boston? Login/Join 
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I did not know this. Did you know this? 2.3 million gallons of molasses.

The Great Molasses Flood

"The density of molasses is about 1.4 tonnes per cubic metre (12 lb/US gal), 40% more dense than water, resulting in the molasses having a great deal of potential energy. The collapse translated this energy into a wave of molasses 25 ft (8 m) high at its peak, moving at 35 mph (56 km/h). The wave was of sufficient force to drive steel panels of the burst tank against the girders of the adjacent Boston Elevated Railway's Atlantic Avenue structure and tip a streetcar momentarily off the El's tracks. Stephen Puleo describes how nearby buildings were swept off their foundations and crushed. Several blocks were flooded to a depth of 2 to 3 ft (60 to 90 cm)."

This guy's delivery is droll, but...

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I live in that neighborhood, grandmother was born right near there. This Facebook page might be of interest, Boston Fire Department Historian, look at Jan 15 posting l.
Posts: 2737 | Location: Boston, Mass | Registered: December 02, 2000Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I actually did know of this incident, but wonder why it's not more famous. I mean, c'mon, a deadly wave of molasses?!

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Thinking it had been warmed up so it could be pumped off of a ship in the middle of winter.

A few people and several horses died.

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semi-reformed sailor
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Coulda used that to make rum…yarrr

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Posts: 11176 | Location: Temple, Texas! | Registered: October 07, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I learned last night.

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From The Great Courses:

Consider a plastic bag filled with molasses to simulate the cylindrical tank. The liquid exerts outward pressure on its container, and the container stretches. Because this tension is causing the cylinder’s circumference to increase, it’s called circumferential stress. The container also stretches more on the bottom than on top. This indicates that the circumferential stress is highest at the bottom of the cylinder due to the accumulated weight of all the fluid above.

Recently, Ronald Mayville performed an extensive analysis of the molasses tank failure using modern techniques and structural analysis tools. He demonstrated that the tank’s maximum circumferential stress was 67% higher than the era’s design standards specified. Moreover, because this stress was caused by the weight of molasses in the tank, it was applied repetitively—with one stress cycle occurring every time the tank was filled and then emptied. Thus, the overstressed steel also experienced long-term damage due to fatigue.

Based on the physical evidence recovered during the post-failure investigation, the fatal fracture likely began at the circular hatch located near the bottom of the tank. Of all the recovered fragments, this hatch was found farthest away from its original location. The circular hatch opening would have caused major stress concentrations within the region of maximum circumferential stress, and the rivet holes would have caused stress concentrations within a stress concentration. Moreover, the rivet holes were created by punching through the steel. This resulted in rough edges with many imperfections that could easily have initiated the crack.

The quality of the steel used to build the tank was probably consistent with early-20th-century standards, with a chemical composition low in manganese. Consequently, the steel would have had a relatively high transition temperature—possibly more than 50°F. The temperature in Boston at the time of the disaster was about 40°F. Thus, the tank’s fracture toughness would have been dangerously low at that moment.

The prevailing theory on why the failure occurred on a 40°F day—and not when the tank had been topped off and the local temperature was near 0°F—is that the mixing of warm molasses from the ship with the cold molasses in the tank caused a fermentation reaction that produced carbon dioxide gas. Over the next two days, the buildup of gas pressure inside the sealed tank increased the tension stress in the steel. According to Griffith’s equation, this higher stress would have increased the tank’s susceptibility to brittle fracture without any change in crack size. Thus, at midday on January 15, an existing crack became critical, and the Great Boston Molasses Flood was unleashed.

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Posts: 8951 | Location: Northern Virginia | Registered: November 04, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Always knew it as the Boston Molassacre…

Success always occurs in private, and failure in full view.

Complacency sucks…
Posts: 5423 | Location: Wichita, KS (for now)…always a Texan… | Registered: April 14, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by SigSentry:
I learned last night.

[FLASH_VIDEO]<iframe frameborder="0" height="315" src="" title="YouTube video player" width="560"></iframe>[/FLASH_VIDEO]

I already knew about it before that video, but I also saw that video and he touched on things that I didn't know about.

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A good friend of mine wrote a fantastic book about it if the whole event interests you...called Dark Tide by Steve Puleo.

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Posts: 10906 | Registered: October 14, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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35MPH? I thought molasses was slow in January.

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This was a running joke with a guy I went to school with. A real history buff, especially around odd Americana. One day he responded to something we were talking about with, " the great molasses flood".

Funny that a different video about the molasses flood just came up in my youtube feed last night.


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Posts: 19837 | Location: SE PA | Registered: January 12, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The Boston Mollasacre is tangentially responsible for my being married to Katndog (as she is known on this forum).

Our first out-of-town date was a “cell phone tour” of Boston sites narrated by Stephen Tyler (of Aerosmith). The wife is a big Aerosmith fan and when I handed her the phone she was delighted.

One narrated stop mentioned the Great Boston Mollasacre… it’s been famous in our house ever since.


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Posts: 1579 | Location: Stamford, CT | Registered: July 14, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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"Move them pistols real slow, like molasses in winter time?"

Sorry Josey but molasses is fast in winter time. Or at least just this once.

There was a show about disasters in America and this was one of the stories.

Its not so much the flood but how in the world did they clean this up? I am sure a lot of people took some.

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I only know about it because of Fascinating Horror.

One of my favorite YouTube channels!


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Posts: 16246 | Location: Maryland, AA Co. | Registered: March 16, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Damn, that was a sticky situation.

Nice is overrated

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Airsoftguy, June 29, 2018
Posts: 31299 | Location: Loudoun County, Virginia | Registered: May 17, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I’ve known about it for a long time. But surprisingly I never learned about it in school and I grew up in East Boston.

These go to eleven.
Posts: 12370 | Location: Westminster, MA | Registered: November 14, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Yes, I remember reading about it many years ago.
I think it was part of a firefighting class I was taking years ago.

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Posts: 2522 | Location: Central Florida, south of the mouse | Registered: March 08, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Another "self-inflicted" disaster occurred on the other side of the state in the 1800's. The Mill River dam collapse of 1874 ( Mill River Dam Collapse). A poorly constructed dam let go on a 100 acre man made reservoir killing 139 downstream. You can still see the remnants of this.


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