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An older friend told me that in the 1930s they would burn ships in the harbour off Sunnyside

An older friend told me that in the 1930s they would burn ships in the harbour off Sunnyside. Is it true? If so, why?—Michael Draper, Roncesvalles

In the late ’20s and early ’30s, promoters did occasionally entertain the throngs at the Sunnyside amusement park by torching ships offshore. At least five decommissioned wooden vessels were sacrificed, including the John Hanlan, an old barge, and the Jasmine (which was torpedoed), both sunk in 1929. Historians believe the final victim may have been the Lyman M. Davis, a three-masted schooner that, prior to its demise in 1934, was the last such ship still in service on the lake. Today, divers visit the charred remains of the Davis and another schooner, the Julia B. Merrill—twin relics of one of the more doltish episodes in the city’s history.

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