The Great Molasses Flood, also known as the Boston Molasses Disaster or the Great Boston Molasses Flood, occurred on January 15, in the North .. Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of Boston: Beacon Press. Dark Tide. The Great Boston Molasses Flood of , a group of firefighters was playing cards in Boston’s North End when they heard. Dark tide: the great Boston molasses flood of Around noon on January 15, , a group of firefighters was playing cards in Boston’s.

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Shortly after noon on January 15,a foot-tall steel tank filled with 2.

The Great Boston Molasses Flood claimed the lives of 21 people and caused widespread destruction. The rise of the anarchist movement and its strong antiwar sentiments made the tank a tempting target, since alcohol produced from the molasses molassws into the making of wartime munitions. The sheer destructive force of the molasses flood is jarringly presented in a number of vignettes about those trapped; 21 people died. In lfood ensuing court battle, Big Business was put on notice that it would not be trusted to police construction safety standards itself, it was not above the law, and it would be liable for damages.

Properly and compellingly recasts quaint folklore as a tragedy with important omlasses. You see the evocative title, Dark Tide, and you speculate on the possibilities: Then you see the subtitle, The Great Boston Food Flood ofand you suspect some other possibility: But do not allow yourself to misread the subtitle. Instead trust your first impressions because the title is the thematic key: Industrial Alcohol, a company frantically involved in acquisition and waterfront storage of molasses, and then converting that molasses in nearby distilleries into industrial-grade alcohol destined for use in manufacturing munitions for the war effort.

Focusing almost exclusively floox production efficiency, however, USIA has little time for safety and security at its North End storage facility.

But after the war, on January 15,something horrible happens: When officials complete rescue operations, and when they assess damages, they discover that the Great Boston Molasses Flood has killed more than 20 people and scores of animals, has injured other people, and has left mind-boggling destruction in its wide wake. Puleo, in the first half of Dark Tide, presents a thorough history about what led up to bostoj January incident.

In the second half, Puleo describes the disaster itself and then turns the book into a compelling detective story about who was responsible: The incident later becomes the subject of a multiyear lawsuit wherein responsibility is assigned and liability assessed, and Puleo painstakingly documents and analyzes the successes and failures of the case.

Corporate managers, government officials, court advocates, and the extraordinary citizens of the devastated North End—those people who were immediately and horribly affected by the tragedy—come to life in this enthusiastically recommended, important regional history. Yet hoston happened, claiming 21 lives in the process, with the collapse of a giant tank containing 2.

Twenty-one people died, others suffered permanent injury or were left homeless in the wake of the tragedy. The Great Boston Molasses Flood ofjournalist Stephen Puleo details what happened in this tidr book on og subject. Thoroughly researched, the volume weaves together the stories of the people and families affected by the disaster, with often heartbreaking glimpses of their fates. Puleo sets the scene carefully, in the context of the time and social conditions, and follows through with the years of lawsuits that ensued.

But the war was over and Prohibition was looming, cutting the market for alcohol. Hoping for one last big market, the company had filled its giant tank with molasses, planning to distill it into drinking spirits to sell before the ban on alcohol took effect the following year. Then, shortly after noon on Jan. Martin Clougherty, who worked the night shift, was asleep when the molasses demolished his house. Clougherty was able to grfat himself and pull his sister to safety. But his mother was fatally crushed in the collapsing building.


His brother Stephen died a year later in a mental hospital. Stonecutter John Barry was trapped in the demolished city street repair building, others moaning around him. Repeatedly during the day, rescue workers had to crawl to him through the muck and inject morphine to ease his pain until they could get him out. Giuseppe Iantosca was standing at his apartment window watching his son, Pasquale, gather firewood around the base of the tank when the little boy suddenly disappeared in the dark mass.

Great Molasses Flood

Iantosca searched for hours before returning to his wife Maria. Maria was waiting for him, her black eyes rimmed red from crying. Neither of them spoke — he had tbe home alone, and that said everything. The cleanup lasted months, the lawsuits years, the fearful memories a lifetime. There is no shortage of inspired eyewitness testimony on the awesome power of unleashed molasses and dramatic stories of rescue and survival.

Melodramatic, true, but how can a molasses flood tkde anything else? One grext fellow survived by treading molasses. Dark Tide does put mplasses flood in its surprisingly important historical context — ultimately, it did for building permits what the Coconut Grove fire did for fire codes 23 years later. These were ordinary people, and the things written about them were pretty everyday as well.

One father was remembered for acting out bedtime stories to his son; a woman was famous for her tuna salad. In the tkde humanity of the details, these people stopped being part of a huge number of casualties, and instead each person became a unique loss. And because of that, the tragedy was all the more indelible. The Great Boston Molasses Flood of Twenty-five-foot tidal waves of molasses, traveling at 35 miles per hour, engulfed the nearby neighborhood, causing massive destruction, killing 21 people, and injuring more than But, for me, what really brings this story into terrifying focus are the individual people Puleo lets us get to know.

Who was to blame for the disaster? There were separate legal claims against USIA, but outrageously, a judge blamed the public for not insisting that the best people be put on the job.

USIA accused antiwar dar, of bombing the tank, an argument fueled by the Sacco and Vanzetti trial. But there was no physical evidence of bombing, and after a grueling, year trial, USIA was found guilty, held accountable for not hiring qualified people to oversee the operation. After the trial, anarchy and the perceived threat from molasess pretty much died. More Italian immigrants became citizens, claiming some power for themselves. But until they were given voice in this book, the characters who drove the story were forgotten.

Race, Religion, and the Healy Family, — Why has no one ever told this story before? The Boston molasses flood floos dimly in popular memory, but no historian has explored it fully until now. Stephen Puleo brings it to life with vivid prose, using the dreadful catastrophe as a tthe through which to view the panorama of a thf Boston, as well as to survey the major events that would shape the future of twentieth-century America.

This is a flold for anyone interested in Boston history. While horrified spectators look on, rescuers try desperately to save the occupants of the Clougherty house, which was torn from its foundation and smashed against the elevated railroad trestle by the molasses wave.

Bridget Clougherty, sixty-five, was buried by debris and timber, and died from terrible injuries one hour after crews pulled her from the wreckage. Her son, daughter, and a boarder living in the house survived the disaster.

The Boston Firehouse near the harbor, home of the Engine 31 fireboat, was pushed from its foundation by the molasses wave and nearly swept into the water. The second floor of the building pancaked onto the first, trapping for hours stonecutter John Barry and several firefighters, including George Layhe, who was pinned beneath debris. Layhe tried desperately to keep his head above the rising molasses, but his stamina gave out as rescue crews attempted to reach him, and he dropped his head back into the molasses and drowned.


Firefighters worked in shifts bostoon four hours clearing debris from around and under the wrecked firehouse to reach their trapped colleagues.

This landscape photo, taken from atop a nearby building, shows the massive damage caused by the molasses wave. The top of the tank can be seen in the top quarter-center of the photo, just mokasses the white building on the harbor. Flattened buildings that had been part of the city-operated North End Paving Yard are seen in the foreground.

Sailors at bottom left from the USS Nantucket, which was in port when the flood occurred, aided in the rescue efforts as crews cleared tons of debris to reach trapped victims.

Photo shows scene in the immediate aftermath of the flood, molassrs approximately where the tank stood. In the foreground is the grrat of the tank vent pipe extendingwhich hit the ground virtually intact. Firefighters opened hydrants in a largely unsuccessful effort to clear the molasses, which began to harden quickly, and they eventually had to pump seawater directly from the harbor. In the background, on the elevated tracks, is the train that was stopped just in time by engineer Royal Albert Leeman, whose own train barely escaped derailment as the main trestle buckled.

In the background is the damaged elevated railroad structure. Excerpt from Dark Tide: The fifty-six-year-old stonecutter John Barry heard moaning in the darkness, felt searing pain across his back and legs, smelled and tasted the sweet molasses as it tried to flow molasdes his nostrils and mouth. He floos pinned face down, his cheek mashed into the sticky molasses, only his left arm free. He used the arm as a sweeper to keep the molasses from smothering him.

Dark tide : the great Boston molasses flood of 1919

Whatever was pressing on his body was crushing the life out of him. It hurt to breathe, whatever breath he could draw seemed insufficient to fill his lungs, bosgon he had to be careful not to inhale a molwsses of sticky molasses. The darkness was total. He heard a skittering sound.

Oh, God, Barry hated the filthy rodents. Terror gripped him as he imagined a fat, hungry, gray water rat chewing at his face while he lay helpless, trapped in the blackness, buried alive.

He called for help, his voice raspy.

Could anyone hear him? Did anyone know he was there? He felt on the brink of madness, and with a mighty, panic-filled effort tried to lift his body, but to no avail. John Barry knew he was going to die, here, buried under the firehouse in this dark stinking space, anonymous and unable to move, a pool of molasses ready to swallow him, rats ready to tear him apart, his screams falling on deaf ears.

He would soon join two of his children who had perished from influenza last fall. But what would become of his other ten?

Great Molasses Flood – Wikipedia

Would they dak wards of the state when their father was gone? He felt his body bleeding and could not stanch his wounds. His chest and back burned like they were on fire. He summoned up strength and cried for help again, and this time heard his voice resonate in the darkness. And then, a miracle: He recognized the voice of firefighter Paddy Driscoll, trapped under here with him, one of the moaners he had heard.