Thursday, January 17

Fast as Molasses

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By Art Cashin

On this day (-2) in 1919, the city of Boston experienced a disaster that would make national headlines the like of which had not been seen since the great earthquake and fire in San Francisco in 1906.  But this time the source was not a natural disaster -- instead it was an industrial accident.

It began as a quiet and relatively warm January day in this commercial North Boston neighborhood.  Workers were lunching, women were shopping and the streets were filled with dray horse carts making deliveries.  Then suddenly things changed.

At the Purity Distilling Company a loud and awful rumble was heard.  One survivor said it sounded like two locomotives colliding at full speed. What it was, in fact, was the bursting of a very huge tank of molasses.  So huge, in fact, that it unleashed a blob of 2 1/2 million tons of goo down the street.  It caught and killed hundreds of horses, men, women and children in its sweep.  It tore buildings from their foundations, ripped the elevated railroad from its tracks and hurled the North Side fire truck into the harbor.  What else would you expect from an 8-foot wall of molasses?

To celebrate stop by the Boston Grog Inn and explain to the Puritan on the next stool that sugar can be dangerous before it's distilled.

Many thanks to Mr. Cashin and UBS Financial Services who graciously allow his historical musings to be republished on this site. To enjoy more of Art's posts simply click on "Cashin's Comments" in the label section on the sidebar.

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