RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 15 . . Export . . 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 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 5
Billmeyer & Small Company reluctantly had to turn down an ever-increasing amount of large orders for railcars, as 1880 came to an end. Their capacity to produce cars was maxed-out. Talk about expanding or building an entirely new factory came up with each refused order during the latter half of 1880.
The refused orders were always domestic; where profit levels were smaller. They never turned down export or specialty railcar orders. Billmeyer & Small had cultivated a nice business with Mexican railroads and construction companies. Occasionally these export orders were reported in local newspapers, such as this note in the January 12th, 1881 issue of the Evening Dispatch:
The Billmeyer & Small Company yesterday began shipping fifty narrow gauge box cars to Mexico, for the Mexican Construction Company. The remainder will be shipped this week.
Billmeyer & Small had a catalog of specialty railcars numbered Type No. 1 through No. 12. These cars were primarily for construction work, quarrying, mining and railroad maintenance. The company got requests; usually starting with, “I wish you made a car that did this …”.
A tabulation of the most often wished for features provided direction on which new car types were added to the catalog. That is how a new car design by David Small resulted in his second application for a United States Patent. David devised a novel approach to the design of a dumping car that satisfied customer requests.
The application was made January 5th, 1881 and on May 3rd, 1881, David E. Small was issued United States Patent No. 241,080 for his Dumping Car. David E. Small describes the object of his invention, within his patent, as follows:
My invention relates to an improvement in dumping-cars; and it consists in the peculiar construction of the plate for connecting the tilting body of the car to the truck, the said plate being made with elevated side supports, which raise the pivotal point of the car-body sufficiently high to enable it to be tilted without striking the truck too soon, and said supports having catches and sustains the car-body when in a horizontal position, and holds it steady.
The day David E. Small sent off his the patent application he gave the go-ahead to investigate the acquisition of land for a new car shop to compliment the existing York Car Works. David’s brother John, was tasked with considering land along the Northern Central Railroad, just north of York in Spring Garden Township. George Billmeyer was tasked with considering land along the Peach Bottom Railroad in the Freystown area of Spring Garden Township. John and George presented their findings to David. The decision was made to go after land in the Freystown area.
The purchases of lots for an additional Billmeyer & Small car shop commenced January 25th, 1881, with the company purchasing a large tract from Daniel A. Rupp along the eastern side of the Peach Bottom Railroad at its intersection with Powder House Alley, which would eventually form the eastward extension of East Philadelphia Street. The January 28th, 1881 issue of the Evening Dispatch reported on the second purchase:
The Billmeyer & Small car company have added to their purchase from D. A. Rupp, Esq., by buying the Lehmayer tract of ground, 175 feet front and 400 feet deep—no three acres, as reported in the morning paper. This second purchase gives a frontage to the Rupp lot of 175 feet on the Wrightsville pike. It is understood that the whole tract will be used either for repair shops or new passenger car shops.
The February 22nd, 1881 issue of the Evening Dispatch reported on another purchase:
The Billmeyer & Small Company, yesterday purchased a lot of ground 60 feet front on Market Street, from John K. Miller. This tract adjoins that recently purchased from Mr. D. A. Rupp, upon which rumor says new and extensive passenger car shops will be erected.
These three tracts formed the one contiguous parcel, that had been step one of the plan. The design of a state-of-the-art railcar manufacturing plant, to be known as the Spring Garden Car Works, was already well underway.
Go to Part 6