RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 14 . . Centennial . . Part 5
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 5 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 5
One featured attraction in York for the celebration of the Centennial Fourth of July was a massive parade that began at half-past nine o’clock in the morning. Over 1,000 persons participated in the parade; made up of bands, fire companies and the like; in addition to many floats by businesses and assorted other organizations throughout York County. Everything in the parade and around town was decorated in red, white and blue.
At noon, exercises took place at the grand stand in Centre Square; lasting several hours. The crowd started to thin out during John Gibson’s oration of a lengthy historical sketch of York County that he prepared for the occasion.
Mr. Gibson was interrupted several times by fireworks that produced fire alarms and other excitements around the square. Nevertheless, Dan enjoyed hearing all these intricate details of his adopted hometown.
Dan purchased the text of Gibson’s talk; that was sold later. It contained 75-pages, documenting the history of York County from its origin to the present day.
The evening exercises at the grand stand in Centre Square were delayed about an hour on account of a heavy rainstorm. However this did not persuade a big turnout of over 2,000 people for a patriotic program of music and oration.
The grand finale for the day was the biggest fireworks display that Dan had ever witnessed. Crowds packed the fairgrounds for the occasion. James Dale, the Chairman of the Committee on Pyrotechnics announced, “The fireworks were furnished by Detwiler, Street & Company of New York,” prior to announcing all the sponsors; Billmeyer & Small Company included. The display commenced as darkness fell and for the first hour the fire works were discharged in rapid succession. The large exhibition pieces followed. Everyone was highly entertained.
Railway Age, covering the International Centennial Exhibition, wrote a nice article on the “Billmeyer” first class coach, which spent a few weeks on display in Philadelphia prior to shipping to the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. The local newspapers were not to be outdone when the remaining three first class coaches were shipped on General Palmer’s order; even borrowing a few phrases. Such is the case for the “El Morro” and LaVetta” coaches, which were written about in the August 16th, 1876 issue of The York Dispatch:
The enterprising car-building firm of Billmeyer & Small, will today load for shipment, two of the most elegant and substantial first-class passenger cars ever built in America.
The cars are for the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, and in beauty of design and finish are not surpassed by anything now running upon our lines. Desirous that our citizens should know through the press, something of the operations of every extensive firm giving employment to our York mechanics, the men who make the life and business of a place, we yesterday visited the car shops and were afforded an opportunity of inspecting the cars. They are named respectively “El Morro” and LaVetta.”
These cars are narrow gauge, and have a length of 38-feet, 6-inches, in the body, and forty-three feet, 6-inches over all, they are eight feet in width, with a comfortable carrying capacity of 46 passengers, or with the stoves removed of fifty. The body of the car, is in design similar to the first-class coaches now in use on the Pennsylvania Railroad, the frame work is of the best Southern Yellow Pine, braced, strengthened, and put together in such a manner as to secure symmetry and grace, combined with the utmost endurance, and protection to the passenger in case of accident. It is perfect model of strength and beauty, and gives evidence of artistic skill, as well as mechanical ability in the builders.
On the outside the finest quality of poplar is used, which is nicely finished and so delicately painted and varnished, as to remind us of the Japanese lacquer work which we have seen in our travels in the far East.
The body is painted in a finely toned wine color, paneled, and banded, and ornamented with yellow. The windows, are, on the upper part in the form of a double elliptic, and carry with their form, an air of lightness and strength.
Upon the upper part of each car, is lettered Denver and Rio Grande, and the name of the car is placed in a tasteful lozenge in the centre. There is just enough of the ornamental to preserve artistic taste, and please the eye without giving that sense of gaudiness which so detracts from true beauty.
The inside is finished in such a manner as to remind one of the beauties of a lady’s boudoir, and not of the stern, hard uses of travel. It has the Buntin patent seat, upholstered in crimson and green plush velvet, the arm-rests are silver plated, and are highly finished. The finish of the inside of the car is black walnut and bird’s eye maple, the mouldings are of cherry, and are richly gilt, while the head lining is beautifully decorated. All the ornamental painting, etc.; is by the Messrs. Watt of this place, and reflects the greatest credit upon them as artists. The cars have retiring saloons, water coolers, two of Spear’s patent stoves, each, and are lighted by two very fine fire-gilt center lamps. They are furnished with silver plated hat and coat hooks, and are ventilated by Cramer’s ventilators.
The Westinghouse air brakes are furnished to the car, the bumpers and platforms are mannilla, and, perhaps best of all, the cars are mounted upon the Billmeyer & Small’s patent car truck, which has given such perfect satisfaction everywhere.
Dan had yet another clipping to add to his ever-growing collection.
Go to Part 6