RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 14 . . Centennial . . 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 14 . . . Centennial. 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 14 . . . CENTENNIAL . . . Part 1
George Billmeyer showed Dan the red booklet that he had been studying; the title, “International Exhibition, 1876. Fairmount Park, Philadelphia.” The booklet was hot off the press; published in May 1875. In it, the United States Centennial Commission described: Acts of Congress concerning the Exhibition, Rules and Regulations, and Description of the Buildings.
This was a planning guide for the anticipated 30,000 exhibitors expected to fill the grounds with displays of their wares for opening day, May 10th, 1876. The items exhibited had to be placed earlier; anytime between January 1st and March 31st, 1876. The exhibition would run through November 10th, 1876.
A day earlier, David Small gave George Billmeyer the task of studying the booklet and weighing the options about getting space in any one of three locations: the Main Building, the Machinery Building, or joining with other manufacturers or States that were planning to erect their own pavilions on the Exhibition grounds.
George Billmeyer asked Dan, “I’m heading to Philadelphia on Sunday, want to join me?” Dan jumped at the chance.
Like many other Sunday strollers, they took a walk along cordoned-off paths through Fairmount Park; checking out the four primary structures that were already under construction. The Main Exhibition Building was located to the right as one entered the exhibition grounds from the main gate Pennsylvania Railroad Station, and the Machinery Building was to the left.
George admitted to Dan, “I thought being here would give me an idea; guess not.” They walked out the 52nd Street exit towards Lancaster Avenue, to find a place to eat. After eating, they took a nice walk westward along Lancaster Avenue.
George suddenly got an idea. He started asking everybody in the area, “Who owns that building,” pointing to a long slender building along the railroad tracks that appeared on the verge of falling down.
George found out who owned the building and where he lived. George and Dan cut their visit to Philadelphia short and took an earlier train back home.
Upon arriving at the York Station, George Billmeyer made a bee-line to David Small’s home; he was anxious to make his recommendation.
George opened with a question to David, “I’ve just returned from the Exhibition grounds in Philadelphia and am ready to make a recommendation, however I need to know something. Is our involvement about winning awards or boosting sales?” George was sure he knew David’s answer, but was just checking, as David emphatically replied, “Boosting sales.”
George detailed his ideas; “I recommend that we set up a small display in the Main Exhibition Building of our workmanship, patents, and show running totals of our railcars on the railroads around the country. The primary purpose of this exhibit is to direct railroad officers and directors to visit our off-site display cars.” David questioned, “And what would be the motivation for the directors to leave the Exhibition?”
George countered, “Many prominent railway directors will be coming to the Exhibition in private cars. We’ll provide a nice area for them to park. The same place where our display cars will be located. Those railroad directors walking through the Main Exhibition Building, that did not arrive by private car, will be just as intrigued about mingling with the prominent railroad directors and possibly seeing their private cars. I’d bet the prominent railroad directors would unknowingly become our best salesmen.”
David asked, “Do you have a parking area picked out?” George handed David a sketch that included the name of address of the current owner and noted, “We’d tear down the dilapidated long slender building on this site, which already has a rail siding right off the main line. We’d be able to install about a dozen switches to angle park cars off the siding only two deep. We’d top the area off with nice landscaping, a pavilion at this end, and run a carriage shuttle over the one mile to the Exhibition grounds.”
David Small and George Billmeyer went to Philadelphia the next day. David purchased the property and lined up a contractor to start work on Billmeyer & Smalls Exhibition site.
Go to Part 2