RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 13 . . PeachBottom . . 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 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 2
The skyrocketing growth of the Narrow Gauge railcar business was greater than anyone had ever expected. Smaller communities across the country, that previously had no hope of rail service, saw the economics of Narrow Gauge as their only viable solution. In great numbers they pounced at the chance to get rail service.
As the Narrow Gauge business boomed at Billmeyer & Smalls, their Standard Gauge railcar business showed no signs of slowing. Their lumber business also grew accordingly, managing to keep up; supplying their car shops and their large wholesale & retail lumber business.
On occasional trips to the companies’ Wrightsville saw mill, Dan enjoyed watching the river-men handle the rafts of logs. These daring men guided massive log rafts; floating all the way down the Susquehanna River from lumbering towns in northern Pennsylvania. At Wrightsville the rafts are broken up into individual logs. The river-men scurried between smaller groups of logs as they bobbed in the river.
Several of the men at the saw mill had mastered the technique. Standing on logs in the water, they guided logs along the side of the canal; to the jack slip at the saw mill. The men let Dan try log wrangling on one occasion; he ended up dunked in the canal within the first 10-minutes.
A week after a newspaper reporter was showed around the car works, the York Daily printed this article on May 6th, 1872:
THE YORK CAR WORKS.—One of the most extensive business establishments in York is the York Car Works, owned by Billmeyer & Smalls. The business carried on is car building and lumbering. The former is conducted under the firm name of Billmeyer & Smalls, the latter under the name of H. Small’s Sons & Co. Although there are two firms, the same gentlemen compose both and have an equal interest in each. The grounds occupied by the car shops and the lumber yard, extend from Duke to Queen Street, east and west, and from the N. C. R. W. to an alley one block South, covering an entire square.
This firm has also extensive lumber yards and saw mills at Wrightsville. The mills at that place have a capacity of from seven to ten million of feet per year, and the amount of lumber used may be inferred, when it is remembered that they are the largest buyers of rafts along the Susquehanna River. The capital invested in these immense establishments, is from four hundred to five hundred thousand dollars. The number of men employed at York is in the neighborhood of one hundred and sixty, and the sum paid out for wages alone, reaches nearly or quite $150,000 per annum.
The car shops of this firm are extensive. The wood work department is under the superintendence of Wm. Hose, foreman. This shop is 17 x 50 feet, and is provided with saws, planning, boring and other machines, for the purpose of preparing the car frames, and employs 45 men. The frame shop is 60 x 50 feet, and is connected with the raising shop, which is 223 x 50 feet. This immense building is two stories high, the upper stories being used for finishing up a certain class of work, and for storing prepared material.
The blacksmith shop is under the supervision of John Forest, as foreman, and gives employment to 42 men. Here all the iron work of the cars is finished. The machine shop is under the foremanship of Philip Rostetter and employs about 14 men. The narrow gauge car shop is a new brick structure, two stories in height, and 178 x 75 feet. Jeremiah Hildebrand is the foreman of this shop. In this building all the narrow gauge cars are constructed.
Connected with car building this firm carry on the most extensive lumber business in York county. They also have a large sash and blind factory. This building is 97 x 78 feet, two stories in height, and provided with the best machinery. This shop is under the supervision of Michael Yesler, and gives employment to 28 men. This branch of the business namely the lumbering business, and the sash and blind factory, as has been before observed is carried on under the name of H. Small’s Sons & Co.
The lumber yard connected with this establishment is very extensive, and every variety of lumber, timber, lath, shingles and carpenter and builder’s materials generally may be found here in great abundance. They have also purchased a new eighty horse power engine, which will soon be in operation, and which will be the largest engine in York. Mr. B. F. Frick is the efficient and gentlemanly clerk and book keeper of this immense establishment. The gentlemen composing this firm are among our most prominent citizens, and are as courteous and obliging as they are prominent and successful.
Dan proudly saved yet another newspaper clipping to his growing collection.
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