RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 14 . . Centennial . . 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 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 2
Within weeks of contacting a host of railroad officers and directors around the country, the Billmeyer & Smalls Exhibition site in Philadelphia became exceedingly popular. Reservations for all available spaces throughout the six-month International Exhibition exceeded sixty-percent by July.
Plans were to open their separate exhibition in conjunction with the May 10th, 1876 opening of the International Exhibition in Fairmount Park. However their opening date was moved up after getting a good many requests for parking private cars during the set-up phase of the International Exhibition. The set-up period commenced the first of the year.
George Billmeyer was put in charge; he’d spend three days a week in Philadelphia. Just when things were progressing smoothly, without warning in mid-August, David Small gave George Billmeyer the deadline of having everything finished by September 18th, 1875.
George took a crew of carpenters and car builders from the York Car Works to finish the pavilion that had evolved into an elaborate gathering place. It was decorated in an ornate rail car motif. Dan was among the craftsmen that finished the Grand Pavilion with only a few days to spare.
David Small kept the reason for the new deadline a secret until he was sure the guest of honor would be stopping by on September 18th. The guest was none other than General William J. Palmer of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, who was traveling back east on business and pleasure.
The Grand Pavilion was christened with an elaborate banquet for General Palmer and his wife Mary; although she insisted to be called Queen. Besides the General’s family, the complete families of David Small and Charles Billmeyer were represented.
Dan relished being at this banquet. The General was a great storyteller. He told of the discovery of the advantages of narrow gauge railways while touring the British Isles on his honeymoon. He reluctantly told about his experiences during the Civil War, upon repeated prodding by David Small.
Palmer was one of the organizers of the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry. As a Colonel, leading this group of 200 men, they attacked and defeated a superior Confederate force. They captured the enemy fieldpiece and took about 100 prisoners without losing a man. For this action, Colonel William Palmer was awarded the Medal of Honor.
Charles Billmeyer made sure one of Billmeyer & Smalls, latest and greatest, first class passenger cars was parked on this siding for the General to inspect upon his arrival. As the General made a toast, he promised to place an order.
The General also toasted the elaborate Grand Pavilion and the beautiful siding. He called the whole idea a stroke of genius, stating, “I’d better get my order for cars in soon, because I’m sure other railroad owners coming through this place are going to rapidly create an order backlog for Billmeyer & Smalls cars.”
David Small immediately offered a toast of his own; giving all the credit for the idea to George Billmeyer. Dan looked at Charles Billmeyer as David made the toast and got what he expected. In Charles, he saw the reaction of a proud Papa.
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