From the May 13, 1949 edition of the Gazette:

The Oak Bluffs Flying Horses, known to other generations as the Cottage City Carousel, has been sold by the Turnell estate to Amusement Enterprise, Inc., represented by Jack Levett and Al Brickman of Vineyard Haven. Expectations are that the Flying Horses will open Sunday, and upon opening they will present a picture more nearly like that which grandfather knew.

For the Flying Horses are old. Seventy to one hundred years have passed since forgotten Belgian artificer carved these prancing, wooden steeds and their wooden saddles. Indeed, it is three quarters of a century, at least, since they took their first passengers for their initial whirling ride, somewhere in the rear of the building now known as Dreamland Garage. Three generations of the Turnell family have owned and operated the Flying Horses since 1896, and there were two previous owners in Oak Bluffs, from which fact the age of the prancing steeds can best be judged.

Today, after all these years of service, the Flying Horses are still the rugged, substantial amusement feature which the old builders planned, although their beauty and newness have faded. That is where the new owners will make their improvements. The flowing tails and manes are to be restored, the leather accouterments will be repaired, and new music, new lights, new paint and the overhauling of all mechanism will complete the restoration of an always popular amusement feature. Moreover, it will preserve in all its former brilliance, a merry-go-round of ancient times, the oldest wooden merry-go-round known to exist in the country.

Through the generations there has developed a strange and sentimental feeling toward the Flying Horses among Island folk and visitors. Grandfathers of today take their tiny grandchildren to ride on the horses which they themselves enjoyed so much as children. Because of this sentiment the rumor of the sale of the carousel has aroused much speculation as to what might follow and already there have been many people who have expressed the keenest pleasure in knowing that their beloved Flying Horses are to be preserved and operated as always.

In the old days, what is now the Oak Bluffs harbor and what is now Sunset Lake were sufficiently joined together to be regarded and named as one body of water — Squash Meadow Pond. For centuries, of course, there was no need for a road where one now crosses, for it would have led from nowhere in particular to nowhere in particular. With the development of the camp meeting, the launching of the Oak Bluffs Land & Wharf Co., and the building of the Highland wharf, a crossing was established by degrees.

In 1867 the Oak Bluffs wharf had been built, and in 1869 the Highland interests — who formed the Vineyard Grove Co., and were allied with the original camp meeting group — petitioned to build the Highland wharf, and it was announced that “they design also to build a bridge, where needed, across the pond, and a plank walk or road from the head of their wharf to the existing Camp Ground.”

Construction of the plank walk began in April and early June the planking was completed and the railing was up. This walk was twelve feet in width, and it was partly over water and partly over land.

There was another plank walk along the beach, and here, in full, is the story as told by an adherent of the Oak Bluffs Co. in the columns of the Cottage City Star, Sept. 4, 1881:

“. . . the uncompleted walk figures prominently along the intervening beach, attracting remark concerning its unfinished state from all tourists to the Island. The explanation is simple: Oak Bluffs Company built that portion of the promenade which is on their property not as a thoroughfare to the other wharf, but as a private promenade for Oak Bluffs residents and visitors, with the intention of providing bowling alleys and other amusements underneath.

“After the Highland company’s wharf was finished, a similar walk was built from that point to meet the Oak Bluffs promenade, and was finished to the boundary line. The gap between is caused by the refusal of the Oak Bluffs Co. to extend the promenade to the boundary line at the invitation of the Highland authorities. This action is not at all remarkable when the hidden object of these latter parties is revealed.”

The writer then explained that the completed walk, affording so short and pleasant a way from the Highland wharf to the Oak Bluffs wharf would divert travel — and the customary ten cents head tax for all passengers — from the latter to the former, for Oak Bluffs passengers would naturally land at the first docking of the steamer and walk the few steps remaining.

So stood the cause between the two companies when a great storm in the winter of 1883-1884 broke open the beach and turned Lake Anthony more or less into an arm of the sea, which it definitely had not been before in a generation at least.

Compiled by Hilary Wall