The Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919

In 1914, the demand for molasses was at an all time high. As a result, Purity Distilling Company installed a holding tank fifty feet tall and ninety feet across at 529 Commercial Street near Keany Square in Boston. On an unseasonably warm day, January 15, 1919, the tank collapsed. The History Guy remembers the Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919.
This is original content based on research by The History Guy. Images in the Public Domain are carefully selected and provide illustration. As very few images of the actual event are available in the Public Domain, images of similar objects and events are used for illustration.
You can purchase the bow tie worn in this episode at The Tie Bar:
All events are portrayed in historical context and for educational purposes. No images or content are primarily intended to shock and disgust. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Non censuram.
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Script by DDC
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  • you do great stuff thanks

    GregariousGregarious18 өдрийн өмнө
  • The cadence of your dialogue seems accidental. Shoot me.

  • There's a modest brass plaque off the sidewalk in the north end of Boston close to the site of the disaster that has a write up of the story. Sometimes people leave jars of molasses there as a sort or warped memorial to the victims.

    Silvester HumajSilvester Humaj28 өдрийн өмнө
  • I heard the disaster from a book in elementary school.

    UnpayedovertimeUnpayedovertimeСарын өмнө
  • I’d love to see you do an episode on the life of Ralph Nader. It’s history that deserves to be remembered!

    JSCRocketScientistJSCRocketScientistСарын өмнө
  • Sounds like a sticky situation

    Reagan AllenReagan AllenСарын өмнө
  • How did guy who overlooked building the tank get hired?

    Bonnie HowellBonnie HowellСарын өмнө
  • 4:56 ratatata

    1050-Manu Agrawal1050-Manu AgrawalСарын өмнө
  • The fact that they brazenly decided to paint the tank brown to hide the shoddiness of it just makes my head spin.

    Mochrie99Mochrie99Сарын өмнө
  • ... ended era of no consequences for big businesses... Is that so?

    Vitaliy ProVitaliy ProСарын өмнө
  • Is it just me, or did this guy use a standard neck tie as a bow tie?

    kegsofvomitspitkegsofvomitspit2 сарын өмнө
  • I have chronic health problems that cause debilitating fatigue and brain fog. I frequently describe how I’m feeling like I am trying to move through molasses. I sort of feel like I need a new description now after hearing about this horror. 6:48 made my heart hurt.

    AmandaAmanda2 сарын өмнө
  • This can't be true. Bostonians are much smarter than the rest of us. Just ask them.

    Po1itica11yNcorrectPo1itica11yNcorrect2 сарын өмнө
  • Wait I thought Hollywood lied qbout everything??? I guess they don't lie about everything considering this story is about an incident in Boston and there's a character in here who's a well-known amateur boxer in the area. I believe I've seen plenty of Hollywood movies about a local amateur boxer from Boston 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

    Yeardmeh808 808Yeardmeh808 8082 сарын өмнө
  • Really you tube six commercials in 4:28 min

    Lance HardyLance Hardy2 сарын өмнө
  • New Sub. Good work plus you explain things in plain english. How is the GOV not responsible for this?? im just saying

  • Halifax disaster.

    Chris VickersChris Vickers3 сарын өмнө
  • People getting killed never gets people to act, but when they have to clean their own basement of molasses and corpses they tend to start to think

    Ferintosh Farms PhotographyFerintosh Farms Photography3 сарын өмнө
  • Really fascinating but OMG you talk too fast. It was really difficult to concentrate on what you were saying.

    Cath FisherCath Fisher3 сарын өмнө
  • I just came to see how many people were repeating the "you can still smell molasses" myth. You can't.

    J CJ C3 сарын өмнө
  • am i bad person for kinda liking this... ....alot. a 20ft tall wave of molasses. it's of biblical proportion!

    kayskidf1kayskidf13 сарын өмнө
  • I love your stories! Please keep them coming :). I listen and take notes to add to my commentary and stories as a Boston guide actually. So I liked hearing this one too!

    Taunya WTaunya W3 сарын өмнө
  • History is how we learn! Thank you!

    Clare ButterfieldClare Butterfield3 сарын өмнө
  • “I Survived” anyone

    Arthur CArthur C3 сарын өмнө
  • As a Boston resident we learned this. But now a few holes have been filed. Thanks.

    RodCleavesRodCleaves3 сарын өмнө
  • How do you clean up molasses in January, with it freezing solid?

    Terrence JohnsonTerrence Johnson3 сарын өмнө
  • It is so weird to hear that a substance used for sweetening can cause such a sour event.

    Cassi Lyn ArroyoCassi Lyn Arroyo3 сарын өмнө
  • Awh what trouble men do weave when first the conger up ol' alcohol to conceive. Killed by molasses is just plain wrong; I mean I so like it on pancakes or better yet, Maple Syrup on sour dough pancakes.

    jackw97224jackw972243 сарын өмнө
  • Their financial advisor? That's even worse than architects in charge of construction.. I know it has nothing to do with history, but i love the old school bowtie :)

    Grank NutterbutterGrank Nutterbutter3 сарын өмнө
  • "Sugar, it's hot today."

    El SpaghettoEl Spaghetto3 сарын өмнө
  • I thought your into said THC.

    MadLadMadLad3 сарын өмнө
  • The horror💀😏

    Toutai PaluToutai Palu3 сарын өмнө
  • so they thought that carrying the dead weight of a horse out of molasses is easier than getting a live house out?

    ʜᴏɴᴇʏ ʙᴇᴇʜᴏɴᴇʏ ʙᴇᴇ3 сарын өмнө
  • Thank you!

    David BarryDavid Barry4 сарын өмнө
  • OMG, it must've took years to get that odor to disperse. Rodents and insects must've had a field day.

    Joseph ConsoliJoseph Consoli4 сарын өмнө
  • Sounds like something Sir Terry Pratchett would have written about in his Discworld books.

    Nicole HicksNicole Hicks4 сарын өмнө
  • You, sir, are the consummate history host...

    Hoosier PlowboyHoosier Plowboy4 сарын өмнө
  • One of my favorite phrases is ‘slower then molasses on a cold January day’ and never knew where it came from, so surely I heard someone else say it I just cannot remember! This video popped up in my feed, why??? Lol so weird

    Tar MachTar Mach4 сарын өмнө
  • Who knew that a benign product we bake & cool with could be so deadly!

    CC4 сарын өмнө
  • You know I just realized I live less than 30 minutes from where this happened... Makes me want to visit it if it was still around

    DeepOceanCopDeepOceanCop4 сарын өмнө
  • Sad tale and could have been avoided. Men can be so hasty and careless with their erections but women instinctively know they’re unsafe. 😏

    seaweed2007seaweed20074 сарын өмнө
  • Bet it wasn't a slow process. Sorry I couldn't help myself.

    Debbie McLaughlinDebbie McLaughlin4 сарын өмнө
  • Drunk History did this story years ago

    Mary DixonMary Dixon4 сарын өмнө
  • Thank you for the information.I hope the bean counter who ok'd the project and cut expenses was run out of town on a rail.

    shirley lakeshirley lake4 сарын өмнө
  • I visited the museum in Dallas, NC to read about this. I photographed the plaque with what you have reported on my phone. This is one of the most amazing stories I have ever heard. Thank you for airing this story!

    Carolyn KingCarolyn King4 сарын өмнө
  • Well Done 👍😊

    carl morgancarl morgan4 сарын өмнө
  • I can't image what it would be like to drown in a few million gallons of this stuff. Do you suffocate? Does it crush you? But on the bright side there's actually a song about this (which is also the way i learnt about this). It's called "All Hands" by Canadian Band Protest The Hero.

    Philipp ProbstPhilipp Probst4 сарын өмнө
  • Sounds like a sticky situation.

    D PersonD Person4 сарын өмнө
  • I think I started noticing that disasters always happen when the year matches the last two digits. 1919, 2020. I swear God doesn't like perfect things.

    Koi BoiKoi Boi4 сарын өмнө
  • A grade school English teacher gave us a book named, catastrophe calamity and cataclysm which was a collection of events that fit the title and we would have reports and class discussions about the stories. The great molasses flood was one of them and not to make light of the lives lost and harm caused but my fellow classmates and I always found some amusement in it. The image of the molasses wave always seemed cartoonish so we would joke about it as the craziest story in the book. The day we discussed it in class there were some laughs and giggles that others days did not have. For years after I would tell people about the event and still talk about it from time to time. Also the fact that they had to shoot the horses always stood out and stuck with me because it just added to the sad loss of life.

    Stogie GuyStogie Guy4 сарын өмнө
  • I'm just glad that for once, FINALLY, the one's actually responsible got their due return. Corporations finding ways to step around big lawsuits is way too common, even now.

    Jordan ScherrJordan Scherr4 сарын өмнө
  • How about the Japanese construction of an atomic device in WW2?

    Trebor XonkTrebor Xonk4 сарын өмнө
  • Has anyone ever calculated how many moles it would take to get enough moleasses to fill a tank this size?

    nilknarf483nilknarf4834 сарын өмнө
  • Yay!! Thanx for remembering the 1918 Boston RED SOX World Series win over the Chicago Cubs

    Jack NakashJack Nakash4 сарын өмнө
  • The London Beer Flood in 1814 killed seven people.

    d.j. passd.j. pass4 сарын өмнө
  • That's what i call a sticky situation 😒

    Dan BanksDan Banks4 сарын өмнө
  • I love this stuff and Love History!!

    79tazman79tazman4 сарын өмнө
  • Gotta be a horrific way to die. It was so well known to leak local people would go out with buckets or jars to harvest molasses

    Brian another God Damned SocialistBrian another God Damned Socialist5 сарын өмнө
  • I never would have known about this without you. Thank you.

    Blond BowlerBlond Bowler5 сарын өмнө
  • The cops had no other choice but to shoot their horses?

    pikeman80pikeman805 сарын өмнө
  • Well we went the OTHER WAY IN EXTREME and now it is too prohibitive to even start a business, let alone maintain one! We need balance! One idea is simple: Only regulate untrustworthy businesses whose actions have labeled them as such and leave everyone else alone.

    Anonymous LibertarianAnonymous Libertarian5 сарын өмнө
  • The book Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 by Stephen Puleo is an excellent read on this. Photos and other evidence of the event, including the lead-up, the failure, and the aftermath.

    Randy BRandy B5 сарын өмнө
  • I appreciated this historical tidbit kept from every history book I've ever come across. I was wondering... could you do the HISTORY OF THE POTATO and how a good king got the people of his area to eat potatoes and live. Thank you

    Scott FraserScott Fraser5 сарын өмнө
  • Could you maybe do one of these about the East Ohio Gas explosion of 1944?

    Skybaby NineSkybaby Nine5 сарын өмнө
  • Thank you.

    Terence WallisTerence Wallis5 сарын өмнө
  • I ran across a book about this disaster a few years ago. I had never heard anything about it. But I found it to be an interesting tale that many would probably never hear of.

    UnajetUnajet5 сарын өмнө
  • We think things are bad in 2020. The image of a wall of molasses traveling 35 miles per hour down a busy area , sounds horrific.

    owner worldwideowner worldwide5 сарын өмнө
  • Many forget the tenants of corporate responsibility that are now diluted by political affiliations. A true market economy is devoid of political allegiances tied to a limited pool of profit.

    New LibertarianNew Libertarian5 сарын өмнө
  • I'm sort of an amateur history buff but you have introduced me to things I never heard of, like in this episode. Keep up the good work.

    The Professor Gillman Show Hosted 50's/60's ScifiThe Professor Gillman Show Hosted 50's/60's Scifi5 сарын өмнө
  • REMEMBER THIS , AND VOTE the idiot president OUT OF OFFICE !

    X XX X5 сарын өмнө
  • Thanks for doing this piece. I served in the US Coast Guard, base Boston from '76 to '78, just blocks from this historic site. Your thorough analysis and presentation went far and beyond anything I have read about this in the past. Great work History Guy!

    Bill JohnsonBill Johnson5 сарын өмнө
  • That was a good one.

    K ManwarrenK Manwarren5 сарын өмнө
  • Black/brown face everywhere. What a racist disaster. God is so un-PC. Obviously not a liberal.

    Matt TraftonMatt Trafton5 сарын өмнө
  • I enjoy your stories Mr History Guy! I have a family legend l have always wondered about. My Mom, her parents and sister came to America in 1950 after WW2. They had gone from Latvia to a displaced persons camp in Germany. They told us that the first place they ended up was Sledge Mississippi. Were in the 1950s they and approx 30 Latvia families were sharecroppers and it sounds just like everything you read about sharecroppers today. They worked very hard, lived in a shack, almost all of their money went back to the bosses. The only way they got out of there was a "Latvia Dr's wife in Milwaukee bought out the contracts" of all 30 families. My cousin tried to find out more, as he spoke Latvian but he died at 56 and l don't know where to turn.

    Janis BentzenJanis Bentzen5 сарын өмнө
  • One big business still has no worry about liability and that is a vaccine business near you.

    Jack ByrneJack Byrne5 сарын өмнө
  • I read the book. Great book and was unaware of this until I got book from library

    Be TBe T5 сарын өмнө
  • This is suspicious AF considering Prohibition.

    Thomas PownallThomas Pownall5 сарын өмнө
  • Victims begged for the sweet release of death...

    Leila PereiraLeila Pereira5 сарын өмнө
  • I somehow stumbled upon this story on wikipedia way back when I was a teenager and it is one of my favorite stories to tell people if viscous liquids are somehow germane to the conversation because people are in such disbelief that a 25ft tall wave of molasses could have rushed through streets at 35mph sweeping away buildings and drowning people. Be careful telling the story if you don't have the internet to back you up - many people absolutely think you are BSing when you tell them about this.

    awhislyleawhislyle5 сарын өмнө
  • Area still smells like molasses in the summer heat.

    Michael MercierMichael Mercier5 сарын өмнө
  • Molasses or MUD!!!!!!

    Meesh GleesonMeesh Gleeson5 сарын өмнө
  • Did anybody make any pancakes that day to use up some of the molasses?

    Eddie KulpEddie Kulp5 сарын өмнө
  • That's a few fine smelling cremations !

    MikMechMikMech5 сарын өмнө
  • I keep thinking, is there anything around me that could explode.

    Connie At the parkConnie At the park6 сарын өмнө
  • Well this sounds like a sticky situation

    Nick RangerNick Ranger6 сарын өмнө
  • Start at about 5 minutes in. He talks too much. And get bored about 7 mins in.

    chuck guerinchuck guerin6 сарын өмнө
  • So when you're ranting about government regulations, understand why each and every regulation exists. Are there some bad ones? I'm sure, many regulations are written by industry themselves in order to overburden smaller companies. That, however, is not the rule.

    Visfor VeganVisfor Vegan6 сарын өмнө
  • What a wicked sticky pissah...

    Brian CrossBrian Cross6 сарын өмнө
  • make no mistakes, poor design as such are still made today. Especially with the 'made in china' label.

    goognam goognwsgoognam goognws6 сарын өмнө
  • Thank you for the opportunity to learn something new.

    Patricia BoordPatricia Boord6 сарын өмнө
  • how ignurt

    Jimbo SliceJimbo Slice6 сарын өмнө
  • 5:25 me when my uncle sneaks up and gets the jump on me

    Jack HererJack Herer6 сарын өмнө
  • I had a molasses explosion 💩 after a heavy drinking session 😂

    Reverse UniverseReverse Universe6 сарын өмнө
  • I love thc

    ToejamToejam6 сарын өмнө
  • I once dropped a stack of pancakes topped with honey.

    Kurt WKurt W6 сарын өмнө
  • Sweetest disaster ever.

    Carlos FuenmayorCarlos Fuenmayor6 сарын өмнө
  • So, prohibition brought about the St. Valentines Day Massacre and death by molasses. Do one about how brewing alcohol is responsible for moving the human species out of the hunter/gatherer stage. I’m working on a project here....

    Adam LoverinAdam Loverin6 сарын өмнө
  • Warm weather in January..... wowo must be global warming....quick call Great's grand mother !!!!!

    Cornell Custom TrainsCornell Custom Trains6 сарын өмнө
  • You are all., 🤐

    Johnny DanielsenJohnny Danielsen6 сарын өмнө
  • Similar to aberfan in the 60s where a local school was buried by coal waste killing 116kids and 28adults was a very dark day for Wales.

    Peg JamesPeg James6 сарын өмнө