Nearly ten years ago I stumbled onto the great molasses flood in Boston. A massive vat of molasses burst in Boston on January 15, 1919, causing a wave of hot molasses to flood the streets at 35 miles per hour, knocking a train off its rails and killing 20 people.

I included a fictional description of the scene in a novel I wrote about 10 years ago. I still find the idea fascinating. Supposedly for decades after, on hot days the bricks of Boston sidewalks would smell like molasses and the harbor was dyed brown for months.

The Atlantic has a short post about it, as today is the anniversary. Their picture of the wreckage from the flood, which I had not seen before, shows an immense amount of devastation.

Interesting fact: the molasses vat was filled beyond its capacity because the distillers were trying to work overtime to get rum produced before prohibition.