It is a proven fact that too much sugar is bad for you, but chances are you never imaged you could drown in sugar syrup.
EVERYTHING YOU NEVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT MOLASSES
Molasses, or black treacle as it’s called by the British, is a viscous syrup-like substance which results from the refining of sugarcane or sugar beets into sugar syfrup. The word molasses comes a derivative of the Latin for honey [mel].
Blackstrap Molasses - Image Source: dreamstime.com/organic-black-cane-sugar-molasses
Sugar beet molasses differs from sugarcane molasses, and is generally used for cattle food.
Blackstrap Molasses has been used frequently for medicinal purposes. It is known for its bitter taste because it is derived from the third boiling of the syrup. Most of the sugar remains in the first syrup which results from the first boiling, and in the second syrup, result of the second boiling. Blackstrap is also used for dietary supplements because it is rich in vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, and potassium.
Image Credit: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Image Source: livemint.com/Leisure/Sweet-symphony
The Great Molasses Disaster sounds like a family story about a Sunday brunch incident when Junior spilled an entire pitcher of syrup all over the pastor and his wife at the dining room table. The kind of oral family history you tell your grandkids about and laugh. Unfortunately, the real event was a true disaster which took 21 lives and injured 150 others.
The catastrophe occurred in the North End neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, on January 15, 1919, at the Purity Distilling Company facility near Keany Square. Purity used the harborside of Commercial Street to offload molasses transported by ships from the Caribbean on the Charles River and store the product in a large storage tank on their property for later transport by pipeline to the Purity ethanol plant in Cambridge.
▼ Image Credit: IMeowbot - Own work, PublicDomain This storage tank was 50 feet tall and 90 feet in Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?
Detail of molasses flood area:
1. Purity Distilling molasses tank
2. Firehouse 31 (heavy damage)
3. Paving department and police station
4. Purity offices (flattened)
5. Copps Hill Terrace 6. Boston Gas Light building (damaged)
7. Purity warehouse (mostly intact)
8. Residential area (site of flattened Clougherty house)
The molasses tank approximately 1919 ▼
Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org/BostonMolassesDisaster
K-bang! At 12:30 pm the earth rumbled. According to Wikipedia, “Witnesses reported that they felt the ground shake and heard a roar as it collapsed, a long rumble similar to the passing of an elevated train. Others reported a tremendous crashing, a deep growling, "a thunderclap-like bang!", and a sound like a machine gun as the rivets shot out of the tank.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molasses
Consider: Molasses is about 40% more dense than water, giving it a great amount of force which created a wave of molasses 25 feet high moving at 35 miles per hour. The wave of sticky syrup took out buildings, snapped part of the elevated railway structure, nearly tipped over a streetcar and flooded several blocks to a depth of 2 to 3 feet in molasses.
Front page of the January 16, 1919, “Boston Post”
Image source: history.com/news/the-great-molasses-flood
Arriving within minutes, the first responders ‒ police, firefighters, and more than a hundred sailors from USS Nantucket stationed nearby ‒ had to wade through several feet of molasses which was described as being like quicksand. They were quickly followed by the Red Cross, the army and navy.
According to History.com,”The most dramatic rescue took place at the Engine 31 firehouse, where several of the men from the lunchtime card game were trapped in a molasses-flooded pocket of space on the collapsed first floor.”Search and rescue continued for several days. Clean up took weeks. Salt water was sprayed from fireboats to wash away the syrup which was absorbed by the river beach sand, leaving the harbor brown for months. Cleanup of the whole city took months longer since everything anyone touched was sticky.
Oral history claims the entire area smelled of molasses every summer for years.
Image source: commons.wikimedia.org/BostonMolassesDisaster Image Source: history.com/great-molasses-flood-of-1919
Damaged part of the elevated train ▼ Damage to Firehouse 31 ▼
Credit for Images:.Courtesy trustees of the Boston Public Library
Leslie Jones Collection - Source of Images: monovisions.com/boston-molasses-disaster
Ultimately, the property damage was assessed at nearly $100,000,000 in today's dollars. As Boston struggled to recover, everyone wanted to know what had caused this disaster.
The newspapers reported that the tank had exploded. The tank's owner, U.S. Industrial Alcohol, who built the tank only four years before due to WWI demand ethanol for munitions, claimed that anarchists had dynamited it as an act of sabotage, which was not beyond possibility.
This was soon proved to be false, and the families affected by explosion ‒ mostly poor Irish and Italian laborers ‒ testified the tank had leaked since construction in 1915, and U.S.I.A. had ignored complaints and warnings that the tank was not safe.
The tank, they insisted, had leaked or "wept" molasses consistently since its construction in 1915, under pressure to rush completion, and the neighborhood had heard groans, rumbles, and metallic creaks since its construction. U.S.I.A had ignored complaints and warnings that the tank was unsafe.
The court ruled in favor of the property owners and families who had suffered. “Massachusetts and most other states responded to the verdict by passing laws to certify engineers and regulate construction. The molasses case marked the beginning of the end of an era when big business faced no government restrictions on its activities — and no consequences.” history.com/news/the-great-molasses-flood