RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 16 . . Founders . . 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 16 . . . Founders. 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 16 . . . FOUNDERS . . . Part 3
The hardest thing for Billmeyer & Small to witness was the shipment of an order for twenty Union Line cars. This order was accepted with the idea of these cars being the first twenty cars built in their Spring Garden Car Works; however with the construction setbacks at the new Works, that was not possible. They would have liked to build these cars at the York Car Works, however that plant was already pushed beyond their limit with car orders.
These railcars had to be shipped by the end of May. To keep a valued customer happy, the order had been reluctantly transferred to their cross-town rival; Empire Car Works. Michael Schall built these cars at the York Plant of the Empire Car Works and made sure a newspaper reporter was present when the order shipped. The article in the May 27th, 1881 issue of the York Daily noted:
Michael Schall, Esq., of the Empire Car Works, made a shipment of twenty, Union Line cars last evening. They made quite a large and handsome train. Mr. Schall, is turning out a great deal of work at his shops in York, Glen Rock and Middletown, and will also soon have his shops at Dauphin in operation.
To make matters worse, as far a Billmeyer & Small was concerned, Michael Schall utilized a photo of one of these Union Line cars within a national ad. That ad in the Railroad Gazette, promoted Schall & King’s Middletown Car Works.
George Billmeyer looked forward to the weekend outings that Emma planned to Springwood Park during weekends from May to August; it took his mind off of the stresses of juggling everything going on at Billmeyer & Small. Dan and Lisa were regulars at these outings.
John Small used the first outing of the year to bounce ideas off the group, concerning the part of the Spring Garden Car Works dedication ceremony honoring his older brother David E. Small. By the second outing, John Small had the draft of his text completed although he freely admitted to working with Reverend Niles to put it together:
From a boy, David E. Small has always had an ardent thirst for knowledge and an intense energy in the pursuit of whatever commanded his attention. When only thirteen years of age, he left the York County Academy so that he might enter the mercantile establishment of his father’s cousins; P. A. & S. Small. There he rose rapidly from one position to another and struck up a lifelong friendship with another P. A. & S. Small employee; Charles Billmeyer.
In 1845, being the dutiful eldest son, he left P. A. & S. Small to join his father Henry in the establishment of a lumber business. In due time, through the drive and business skills of David, the growing business called for the aid of his two younger brothers; John and Jacob. The business became well-known as H. Small & Sons.
Reverend Niles told me that David E. Small was the restless son; he wanted something more than just the lumber business. That opportunity came in 1852 when David entered into a partnership with Charles Billmeyer to manufacture railway cars.
Soon car building dominated, such that most people viewed the lumber part of the business as a secondary entity. Not David, he has always viewed a strong lumber business as essential to the success of Billmeyer & Small.
David E. Small was the driving force behind the partnership’s rapid expansion into the forefront of the narrow gauge movement. During the first 10 years of the movement, close to 10,000-miles of narrow gauge track had been laid in this country. All that mileage needed railcars, which Billmeyer & Small were all too happy to supply. That same drive and David’s strong connections with major railroads, all over the country, allowed Billmeyer & Small to nevertheless continue to be a dominant supplier of standard gauge railcars.
After the death of Charles Billmeyer, the two firms, car works and lumber business, were consolidated into a stock corporation, including sons of the founders, under the title of Billmeyer & Small Company, of which Mr. David E. Small was made President and continues to serve in that position to this day. I’ll second George Billmeyer’s closing line. This Spring Garden Car Works is being dedicated today because of the vision and drive of its founders Charles Billmeyer and David E. Small.
Emma Billmeyer summed up the thoughts of everyone present, “With two excellent dedication speeches finished, let’s pray that we have no more delays in the timely completion of the Spring Garden Car Works.”
Go to Part 4