RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 15 . . Export . . 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 15 . . . Export. 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 15 . . . EXPORT . . . Part 2
To celebrate Billmeyer & Small’s initial narrow-gauge railcar order from Brazil, George Billmeyer invited several workmen from the car works to a dinner at the Billmeyer House. Five of the workmen were asked to bring their wives.
Dan and John were the single workmen, and since they were not seeing anyone, George told them, “My wife Emma loves to play match maker. I expect that she already has your dinner companions selected.”
Dan got along nicely with Lisa. By the end of dinner, there was no doubt, he’d ask Lisa out on a date. After prodding by several guests, George agreed to share with everyone how they got the Brazil order. John added, “I have an idea; there is a rumor going around the works that you’ve become buddies with the Emperor of Brazil.”
George laughed, “That is kind of true. However, I believe Emperor Dom Pedro was more impressed with Emma.”
George continued, “When the company officers attend the grand opening of the International Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia last May, I took Emma as my guest. At Noon, after an address by President Grant, the Centennial Exhibition was officially opened; accompanied by a resounding artillery salute of 100 guns. On the platform, with the President, were Emperor Dom Pedro II, and his Empress Teresa, along with other heads of state.”
“Earlier in the morning, the official party and the many notables were allowed to visit the principal pavilions in advance of the public. Dom Pedro stopped by our booth. I introduced him to Emma. Virtually the remainder of the time he was at our booth, Dom Pedro and Emma were involved in deep conversation. Emma noted the Emperor had a relaxed manner, intense curiosity, and great admiration for the United States.”
“As Dom Pedro was getting ready to head to another booth, he grabbed my arm and pulled me to the side, telling me, ‘Emma tells me you two are dating. My advice, don’t let her get away.’ I admitted, ‘This evening, I’m planning to ask her to marry me.’ The Emperor smiles and gives me a thumbs-up as he moves to another booth.”
“Two months later, the Emperor sent me a letter. He wanted additional details on our railcars, however also inquired about the date of the wedding. By that time we were already married.” Pointing to a vase on the side table, “Dom Pedro and Teresa sent us that beautiful vase as a belated wedding present. We continue to exchange letters about every other month.”
“Brazil is a very progressive country. They have a railroad-building boom going on just like the United States. I expect that we’ll get many more orders from Brazil. Additionally, more domestic and export jobs have been quoted. I expect a good many of them will turn into orders. Things are definitely looking up for the York Car Works.”
George Billmeyer told the guests, “Whoever came up the idea of the International Exhibition should be congratulated. Over 50 countries were represented with exhibits. The contacts and interchange of ideas at the Exhibition have created a huge worldwide export demand of U. S. manufactured goods. The European Countries are not looking down their noses at us anymore.”
Dan clipped an article in the local newspaper; concerning the first press mention about the Brazil order. The article appeared in the October 31st, 1878 issue of the Evening Dispatch:
The car works of the Billmeyer & Small Co., is busily engaged in filling orders for cars. They have ready for shipment ten eight wheel wide gauge freight cars, which will be shipped to the New York, Lake Erie and Western railroad. They have also a number of narrow gauge cars for Brazil, which are to be placed on a road extending from Rio de Janeiro to Valenciana, In addition to the above they are building some narrow gauge cars to be used in California. These last will be shipped to their destination via Cape Horn, and will be five months on the way.
Dan questioned Henry Small, “Why not ship the California cars by way of the nine-year-old Transcontinental Railroad or the Isthmus Railroad?” Henry explained, “If it cost $100 to ship a product via Cape Horn, it cost approximately $300 to ship the product via the Isthmus of Panama. The 47-mile long railroad across the Isthmus was completed in 1855; creating the initial alternative to the Cape Horn route. The owners of the single set of Transcontinental Railroad rails still have a monopoly; shipping by rail to the west coast typically costs at least 5-times the Cape Horn option and almost double the Isthmus option. Most west coast customers still prefer huge saving on shipping costs. They simply place orders well in advance to negate the Cape Horn delivery voyage; that takes months.”
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