RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 13 . . PeachBottom . . Part 1
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 1 of Chapter 13 . . . PeachBottom. 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 13 . . . PEACHBOTTOM . . . Part 1
Talk had been in the air for some time about a new railroad entering York County at Peach Bottom. Whenever George or Dan questioned Charles Billmeyer about the latest rumor, Charles’ response was always the same; “I have serious doubts about that railroad ever being built, unless that company gets its act together on their finances.”
The Peach Bottom Railway Company had been established years earlier when Pennsylvania Governor Geary signed legislation on March 24th, 1868. This company was chartered to construct and operate a railroad from any point on the Northern Central Railroad in York County, between the Borough of York and the Maryland State Line, and striking the Susquehanna River anyplace between Muddy Creek and the Maryland State Line.
The restrictions where the railroad could cross the Susquehanna River essentially predetermined this location to be Peach Bottom. The charter also empowered this new railroad to connect with the Hanover Branch Railroad and continuing onto the Gettysburg Railroad; essentially establishing the connection point on the Northern Central Railroad someplace near Hanover Junction.
George and Dan had done some scouting at Peach Bottom in the summer of 1868, just as they did in 1865 at Neff’s Summit, when they spied on another proposed railroad that never happened; i.e. an alternative route between Washington, D.C. and New York City planned by some financiers to go through a part of southeastern York County. A Susquehanna River bridge connecting Peach Bottom, York County with Peach Bottom, Lancaster County seemed to make sense. The boys observed the ferries where always very busy between these villages.
Raising funds to build the Peach Bottom Railway, on both sides of the Susquehanna River continued to be a problem for years. Even though this railroad had never considered anything other than Standard Gauge, suddenly they were presented with the economic reality; without switching to the huge cost savings by opting to build as a Narrow Gauge railroad, it would never be built.
As soon as the Peach Bottom Railway Company made the decision to build as a Narrow Gauge railroad, David E. Small became aggressively involved in behind the scenes dealings to get this railway to connect with the Northern Central Railroad close to their Car Works in northeast York. David had two reasons for doing this. The first was a marketing advantage of having narrow gauge tracks next-door to show off Billmeyer & Small narrow gauge cars. The second was to prevent narrow gauge tracks from being closer to their competitor Michael Schall’s Empire Car Works, with operations in northwest York and Glen Rock; i.e. the new railroad was targeting to link with the Northern Central Railroad between those two Empire Car Works operations.
The reason behind the scenes dealing were required, was because Michael Schall was one of the directors of the Peach Bottom Railway Company. However David E. Small had an in with the chief engineer in charge with building the Peach Bottom Railway; David was a friend of Chief Engineer Colonel Hood.
David discovered the initial survey had the York County route of the Peach Bottom Railroad running southwest from Peach Bottom to Delta, then following Scotch Run northward to Muddy Creek. The route stayed in the Muddy Creek valley in a northwest direction until it reached a westward creek branch that headed in the direction of a first summit at Apple Grove. The route continued westward reaching the Dunkard Valley to a second summit at Loganville from whence it continued westward along Fishel’s Creek, striking the Northern Central Railroad a little over a mile north of Hanover Junction.
David Small met with Colonel Hood and suggested Neff’s Summit would serve as a better first summit, because it provided an easier route to reach Dunkard Valley. He cited knowledge of a railroad survey crew that worked in the area during 1865. On this first successful suggestion the route only nudged slightly in the desired northerly direction; from that point it still then went west towards Loganville. David cleverly did not make a hint of his eventual goal; he would need to be crafty with that ultimate suggestion.
Go to Part 2