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The Great Molasses Flood

post written by Emma Filbrun

The Great Molasses Flood, by Deborah KopsTitle: The Great Molasses Flood
Author: Deborah Kops
Major Themes: Boston, Prohibition
Synopsis: When a gigantic tank split and spilled 13,000 tons of molasses across Boston in 1919, not only was there a horrendous mess to clean up but 21 people died.

What a thrill to discover The Great Molasses Flood! I have always loved books like this, written for children, that tell a historical story in a fascinating way, with pictures from the time to show what happened. Have you ever heard of the great molasses flood? I never did, either!

On January 15, 1919, as life was getting back to normal in Boston after World War I, and as Prohibition was becoming law across the United States, a disaster occurred that no one saw coming. A gigantic tank fifty feet high, on the waterfront, held over 2 million gallons of molasses—about 13,000 tons! This molasses was to be made into rum. During the war, molasses had been made into alcohol, and then into ammunition. Now, there was just a year to make and sell as much rum as possible before Prohibition would go into effect. The molasses in this tank would never become rum, however.

At 12:30 on January 15, the tank suddenly split open and a flood of molasses was unleashed on the city. Without warning, several houses, including a firehouse, were swept off their foundations and crushed. People found themselves in a sea of molasses—sticky, heavy molasses. Before it was all over, 21 people were dead and many more injured. And how do you clean molasses out of a city? Read The Great Molasses Flood to learn more about the catastrophe and its aftermath, including several years of investigations to determine exactly who was at fault. This is one fascinating story! After I read it, I was telling my family about the story at the supper table. All of them were intrigued, and it made for quite an interesting, lively discussion.

Note: I was given a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

No warnings!

Age Levels:

Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 13
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults


Links to buy The Great Molasses Flood:




Keywords: Boston, Prohibition

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