RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 15 . . Export . . Part 6
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 6 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 6
John Small and George Billmeyer had ideas for streamlining manufacturing operations at the new Spring Garden Car Works. They wanted to use something based upon an assembly line and arrange the factory to minimize movement of materials throughout the assembly process.
Dan was involved in planning the new paint facility. He had the idea to make it easy to insert or remove cars from the assembly line between final assembly and the painting operations. This idea sprung from car movement delays that were regularly experienced at the York Car Works. John and George came up with the laterally moving transfer table, which become one of the prominent features of the new factory.
During the many trips that George Billmeyer took to the 1876 International Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, he had the occasion to become reacquainted with a budding architect. George first met John Dempwolf years earlier when John worked for P. A. & S. Small Company in York.
John Dempwolf had become intrigued with the famous Philadelphia architect Stephen Button through Stephen’s design for St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in York. That intrigue led John to study architectural drawing and design at the Cooper Union Institute. Upon graduating, John spent time in Boston and in York; however he jumped at the chance to work for Stephen Button in Philadelphia on several of the 1876 Centennial Exhibition buildings.
George Billmeyer sat with John Dempwolf as a westbound train departed Philadelphia. John wanted to explore setting up his own practice, possibly in Harrisburg. George invited John to stop by York prior to returning to Philadelphia.
Mr. Dempwolf dined with George and Emma Billmeyer and a host of Small family members at the Billmeyer House. Everyone in the room offered their support for John to establish his practice in York. John A. Dempwolf became the architect for the Spring Garden Car Works. The February 19th, 1881 issue of the York Daily included a statement by J. A. Dempwolf within an article on the new passenger car works:
Mr. John H. Small, vice president and superintendent of Billmeyer & Small Co., has now completed all the arrangements to push forward the new passenger car works, which will be erected on the recently purchased ground as soon as the weather permits. The various buildings will cover an area of about 45,000 feet, and are to be equipped with the most improved machinery.
The general disposition of the buildings will be carefully arranged with a view to facilitate and to save time and labor in the manufacture of passenger cars. Mr. J. A. Dempwolf, architect, who is now preparing the necessary drawings, states that it will require upwards of a million of bricks and 100,000 feet of lumber to erect the works.
David E. Small was anxious to get the new car works into operation. A flood of new car orders quickly filled capacity of both the old and new factories. Construction of the new car works was barely underway, with John Small and George Billmeyer already lamenting, “Maybe we should have built a bigger plant!” David was the cautious owner this time, stating, “Be careful. Give the new works a few years, before even considering such a move.”
The new car shops were progressing at a nice pace. The Evening Dispatch reported in the March 24th, 1881 issue:
The foundation for the New Car works of the Billmeyer and Small Company is completed, and the large force of workmen engaged upon the building will hurry the work as rapidly as possible in order to have the shops ready for occupancy in less than two months. The Billmeyer and Small Company are rushed with orders, having enough on hand to run their present works, together with the new addition, the entire summer.
John Small told Dan, “You’ll be moved to the paint department in the new car works. This suited Dan just fine. The new shop was only a matter of steps away from his home along East Philadelphia Street.
Go to Chapter 16, Part 1