RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 11 . . Princeton . . Part 2
RAILCAR GOLD is a historically accurate multi-generational fictional tale of hidden treasure, primarily set in York County, Pennsylvania during the latter half of the Nineteenth Century. This is Part 2 of Chapter 11 . . . Princeton. A new part will be posted every Thursday. Recent chapters stand alone, starting here; however new readers may want to start at the beginning.
CHAPTER 11 . . . PRINCETON . . . Part 2
As always, George and Dan worked at the York Car Works that summer. Every summer George was given greater responsibility in the office. Everybody suspected that one day he would take his Dad’s place in the company.
The beginning of every summer, Charles Billmeyer asked Dan, “Are you sure you’re not getting tired working in the Paint Department? Just let me know and I’ll assign you to another department.” Dan however thoroughly enjoyed working in the Paint Department. He stayed there many years by his own choice, even after graduating high school.
In the fall of 1867 it was back to school for both of them. George started his freshman year at college in Princeton, New Jersey. Dan entered the 11th grade.
George Billmeyer thoroughly enjoyed college. A few times every term, he’d write a letter to his Mom or Dad. The whole family would gather as the letter was read aloud.
Dan was now the big brother to Charlie and Will, George’s younger brothers. However when George was home from college on term breaks, it was usually Dan and George hanging out.
That year seemed to fly by. Before they knew it, George and Dan were wrapping up another summer working at the York Car Works. Dan started his senior year of high school. He was looking forward to graduating and working at the Car Works full time.
The first term of George’s sophomore year at college in Princeton began on Thursday, August 20th, 1868. As always George boarded a train in York the day before, with the whole family seeing him off. George was home for a nice term break between December 10th and January 7th.
There was much excitement at the Billmeyer & Small railcar business during the time George was home for spring term break from April 29th to May 13th, 1869. Business opportunities were sure to advance significantly, due to the completion of the Pacific Railroad.
Dan daydreamed what it would be like to take a train trip all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Right then he made up his mind, some day I’ll do just that and see the Pacific Ocean. Dan bought his own copy of the newspaper and saved the article from the May 11, 1869 issue of The Gazette:
The last rail of the Pacific railroad, joining California with the Eastern States, was to have been laid yesterday. Great preparations were made to celebrate the event. The last tie is said to be of polished laurel wood, mounted on either end with solid silver, accompanied by a spike of solid gold costing two hundred dollars. A silver pick and silver hammer had also been forwarded to the end of the track for use in its completion.
Arrangements had been made by the Western Union Telegraph Company so that each stroke of the hammer on the last spike driven should be reported simultaneously in New York and San Francisco by telegraph.
The Lancaster Intelligencer says: “This gigantic enterprise has cost the people of the United States a vast amount of money, and there is good reason to fear that the corruption and rascality which have added so largely to our public expenditures of last years have greatly increased the legitimate cost of this work. Still the ultimate results will compensate even for this. The road just finished may prove to be impassable for months during the winter, but it will not be long until another will be opened in a milder latitude, where the snow of winter will not interrupt travel and endanger life. That a road will be very soon constructed on the Southern route we have no doubt. A few years ago the idea of accomplishing what has just been successfully achieved was regarded as almost chimerical. Now with one road across the continent completed we are preparing to build two others. Truly this is a fast age and ours a great country.”
Dan wrote on the newspaper clipping, “I will ride the Pacific Railroad to the Pacific Ocean and take the Southern Route back East.” He then carefully placed the article, amongst other articles he had saved, in a small wooden box.
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