Dear MIT: Please Make Us Snow Removal Flamethrowers

Seriously, guys: Stop with the silly pranks and help us melt ice with fire!

By | Boston Daily |


(Snow Melters on loan from Massport, photo via City of Boston)

As Boston continues to dig out from Nemo, the city is facing an age-old problem: Since we can’t dump snow in the harbor due to environmental regulations, what should we do with all that white stuff?

Currently, we have the Snow Removal Strike Force running around the city tackling piles of snow. (Idea for a new city revenue stream: Snow Removal Strike Force T-shirts! Coming to an Urban Outfitters near you!) In addition to the usual plows and dump trucks, the Strike Force has borrowed some pretty neat giant snow melters from MassPort to help them disappear the snow.

Big trucks are pretty fun, but what about a more awesome method of snow removal? Like, say, flamethrowers! No joke: Back in 1948, a snow-beleaguered Boston Mayor James Curley asked MIT President Karl Compton if flamethrowers would solve the snow problem:

“I am very desirous that the Institute of Technology have a competent group of engineers make an immediate study as to ways and means of removing the huge accumulation not only in Boston, but throughout the entire state, whether it be by the use of flame throwers or chemicals or otherwise…”

Compton, for his part, recommended that flamethrowers “would be neither practicable nor efficient,” but would be “hazardous.” Instead, he suggested—mockingly?—that the city try salt: “In many sections of the country salt, usually calcium chloride, is used quite effectively.”

I can’t believe Curley put up with that sass—Menino sure wouldn’t—but technology was still pretty limited back then. Meanwhile, it’s been 65 years! And we still don’t have any snow flamethrowers. MIT: Please get on it, for the sake of everyone’s commute.