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image of Gateway to Bethlehem – Burning Basin

Gateway to Bethlehem – Burning Basin

The lock-like Burning Basin in the back of Mallows Bay was made by Bethlehem Steel in either late 1942 or early 1943. The area was altered to hold 15 ship hulls at once within the basin. The gate into the basin was just wide enough to float one hull at a time into the area. Once in the basin, the water was to be pumped out of the ship, burned, and the metal retrieved. However, the first 11 vessels that floated into the basin sank into the soft bottom when the water was removed, making it extremely difficult to burn the ships. Operations began to end by September 1944 and finished in January 1945. Only one other vessel is known to have been scrapped before operations stopped. Therefore, this method of salvaging metal did not prove worth the cost.