RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 15 . . Export . . 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 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 3
An aerial drawing of The York Car Works of Billmeyer & Small Company appeared as part of a full-page-408 ad in Asher & Adams’ New Columbian Railroad Atlas of 1879. Dan enjoyed watching the making of this drawing, because the artist was exceedingly willing to share tips and techniques of how he created these aerial drawings.
With some practice, Dan got pretty good at making these drawings. Lisa was the recipient of many of these sketches; Dan liked how Lisa was always bragging about his talents. At times, Dan considered asking Lisa to marry him; however these instances always happened to coincide with a spat, cooling things off.
The ad noted that The York Car Works now comprise one of the most extensive and most completely equipped establishments of the kind in the United States—having a capacity of two hundred Freight and six Passenger Cars per month. Narrow-gauge railcars remain the cars that brings the most publicity to Billmeyer & Small, however the largest part of their business remains the thousands, upon thousands, of standard gauge cars. These cars are running upon the most important roads in the United States; such as the Pennsylvania, the New York Central and Hudson River, the Baltimore and Ohio, and the Northern Central Railroad.
The ad also highlights their export business; for besides supplying cars to railroads in virtually every state and territory in the United States, Billmeyer & Small Company has build cars shipped to Cuba, Mexico, Costa Rica and several countries in South America. Dan was proud that in 1880, they could add another country to their export list; far-away Japan.
For over two centuries, the rulers in Japan chose to be virtually isolated from the rest of the world; until the Meiji government came into power in 1868. The new government was open to ending feudalism and introducing Western ideas.
George Billmeyer had met several representatives of this new Japanese government during their visit to the International Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876. George was amazed to learn that the very first passenger train in Japan started operating in 1872; only four years earlier. The realization that Japanese railroads were established over 40 years after the start of train service in the United States amazed George.
Last year, George traveled to New York City to get a Billmeyer & Small railcar proposal translated prior to sending it off to Japan. George did not hold out much hope at getting an order, since he knew much of the early rolling stock was British; and now a mixture of British and built in Japan.
Imagine the surprise when Billmeyer & Small received the order. The announcement received press coverage in the February 16th, 1880 issue of The Evening Dispatch:
Cars for Japan
The Billmeyer & Small Company have succeeded in obtaining a contract for furnishing cars for a railroad in Japan. It will be the first railroad in that far off Eastern country, ever equipped with American rolling stock. The cars are to be delivered next May.
Dan saved that clipping and two related clippings that appeared in the April 15th, 1880 issue of The Evening Dispatch:
Cars for Japan
The Billmeyer & Small Company have finished about 120 house and mining cars for Japan. The cars have all been taken apart and packed, and are now being shipped to New York, where they will be transferred to the bark “Tobey” and taken to their destination. The entire lot will be shipped by Saturday.
A Broken Shaft
Yesterday afternoon about three o’clock one of the shafts in the wood department of the Billmeyer & Small Co. Car Works was broken, which has stopped a portion of the work. The shaft has been in use about three years, and upon examination a large flaw was found in it. Fortunately the shaft was held in place by one of the holders, which no doubt prevented a serious accident.
There were 10 workmen in the immediate vicinity when the rotating line shaft broke. The holder barely held the broken shaft in place; preventing raining a host of heavy pulleys and belts down upon these workmen. Within a week, all shaft holders had secondary support brackets in place; as an extra safety measure in the event of future shaft failures. Those actions were in keeping with David E. Small’s no-nonsense approach to worker safety; an edict stemming for David’s own accident in the shop during the early years of the business.
Go to Part 4