RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 13 . . PeachBottom . . Part 3
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 3 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 3
Despite being an orphan, Dan was always treated like a son by Elizabeth Billmeyer. Many times he had told her how appreciative he was for being accepted as part of the family. As Dan’s savings started to grow from working, he told Elizabeth that he was thinking about moving out and getting a place of his own; she would have nothing of it. Thus, Dan was distraught when Elizabeth passed away on August 22nd, 1872. He missed her.
George Billmeyer kept Dan up to date on David Small’s behind-the-scenes dealings to get the route of the new Peach Bottom Railway to connect with the Northern Central Railway near the Billmeyer & Smalls shops in York. David indirectly used Dan to gather the word on the street about this new railway.
Increasingly, Dan was hearing this new railway referred to as the Peach Bottom and Hanover Junction Railway. When newspaper accounts started to use the same terminology, David Small started planning his next move.
David Small knew that the railway was still short on raising money to construct the railway. Even though David was considering having Billmeyer & Smalls fund the entire shortfall, from a political standpoint, he knew a better approach was to utilize a committee of York businessmen. It did not take David Small very long to round up the necessary subscriptions needed to attract the terminus of the new railway to the Borough of York.
David Small met with Colonel Hood before he approached the directors of the Peach Bottom Railway Company. David told Colonel Hood, “I’ve heard that a group of York businessmen, led by Michael Spahr, are going to approach the directors to request terminating the railway in York instead of Hanover Junction. I think that will result in an opportunity for you; by eliminating a second summit at Loganville. Because if you head a short distance north of Neff’s Summit, you can plan a route through the Mill Creek valley, virtually all the way to York, with no additional summit to contend with.”
Colonel Hood agreed, “I previously brought that route before the directors on two occasions, however it was ultimately voted down both times. I wish Michael Spahr luck, because a route through the Mill Creek valley would be an easier route to build.” David Small told Colonel Hood that he would be in the delegation of businessmen. Hood offered suggestions for swaying the directors.
David Small’s plan worked, by December 1872, the directors of the Peach Bottom Railway approved the plan to make York the western terminus. This caused a revolt by a group of 50 investors in the Dunkard Valley. They had previously subscribed under the impression that the railway was going to pass through their valley. This revolt resulted in protracted court cases that ultimately ended up in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court with a ruling in favor of the railway company.
With sufficient money and right-of-ways finally in hand, work commenced on the Peach Bottom Railway. David E. Small was overjoyed at the prospects of this narrow gauge railway. David foresaw bringing in a continual stream of potential customers to see the York Car Works, and following up by treating them to an excursion in one of their railcars. During March of 1873, Billmeyer & Smalls were building railcars for five narrow gauge railways, and had already built cars for twenty-seven narrow gauge railways around the country.
By the spring of 1874, grading for the Peach Bottom Railway roadbed had been completed on 29 of the 38 miles between York and Peach Bottom. This included 27 continuous miles of roadbed between York and Woodbine, so the decision was made to start tracklaying on this section immediately.
Go to Part 4