Origins: "As slow as molasses in January." There was one memorable exception to that truism. And it was a deadly one.
Forty minutes past noon on
Eyewitness reports tell of a "30-foot wall of goo" that smashed buildings and tossed horses, wagons and pool tables about as if they were nothing. Twenty-one people were killed by the brown tidal wave, and 150 more were injured. The chaos and destruction were amplified — and rescue efforts were hampered — by the stickiness of the molasses. Those persons attempting to aid others all too often found themselves mired fast in the goo.
The day after the disaster, The New York Times reported:
The greatest mortality apparently occurred in one of the city buildings where a score of municipal employees were eating their lunch. The building was demolished and the wreckage was hurled fifty yards. The other city building, which had an office on the ground floor and a tenement above, was similarly torn from its foundations.
One of the sections of the tank wall fell on the firehouse which was nearby. The building was crushed and three firemen were buried in the ruins.
Barbara "too much sweet stuff can kill" Mikkelson
| The Molasses Disaster of
Frye, Ralph. "The Great Molasses Flood." Reader's Digest. August 1955 (pp. 63-67). The New York Times. "12 Killed When Tank of Molasses Exploded." 16 January 1919 (p. 4).