RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 16 . . Founders . . 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 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 6
The financial scare with the narrow gauge railway in York County being resolved, David E. Small renewed his focus on what he liked to call, “a showcase narrow gauge railway; stretching all the way from their Spring Garden Car Works through southeastern York County and across Maryland; into the important railroading City of Baltimore.” It had been six years since narrow gauge track, of the newly named York and Peach Bottom Railway, had been completed between York and Delta.
Finally, narrow gauge track was being laid from Baltimore, northward through Maryland; with the ultimate goal of reaching Delta. The April 26th, 1882 issue of the York Daily reported on the opening of the seven miles between North Avenue in Baltimore and Towsontown:
The Narrow-Gauge Railroad.
The Baltimore and Delta, for the first week of its operation between Baltimore and Towsontown, says the Baltimore Sun, carried 1,500 passengers, exclusive of commuters. The Sunday business was quite satisfactory. A change of schedule was made Monday, the result of the week’s experience. There are now six trains a day, including an 11:40 P.M. theatre train from North-avenue Station, and three trains will be run on Sundays.
The company has purchased 20 new gondola cars, of which 9 have arrived, from the Billmeyer & Small Works, York. Phosphates, coal, mill feed and other freight is going over the road. Adams Express is arranging for service on the line, and Postmaster Adreon has ordered a letter-box at North-avenue station.
Billmeyer & Small were anxiously waiting to hear about their quote to provide 20 passenger coaches to The Baltimore and Delta Narrow-Gauge Railroad Company. David Small insisted that they quote the job almost at cost; he wanted their railcars predominantly featured on that railway. They were happy to get additional freight car orders but were disappointed that the coach order was split with a competitor in Delaware; orders for ten coaches went to each car builder.
The astonishing start-up success of the initial link in the plans of the Baltimore and Delta Railway continued to get prominent coverage in York. The April 29th, 1882 issue of the York Daily reported:
The Baltimore and Delta Narrow-Gauge Railroad Company have ordered two new 30-ton locomotives from the Baldwin Works for early delivery, and 20 passenger coaches from the Billmeyer & Small Works, York, and Jackson & Sharp, Wilmington, Del., to be delivered in June for the opening of the Lock Raven excursion business. The indications are that a heavy excursion business will be done next summer. An engagement already made with a beneficial organization is for an excursion of 2,000 persons to Loch Raven.
The train employees of the company are uniformed in dark green, with Maryland buttons. A dozen new freight cars have been received. The crossing of the York road, at Towsontown, will be made this week; and the North-avenue station will be put up shortly. Mr. William Gilmor, financial agent of the company, said the road is doing an unexpected good business between Baltimore and Towsontown.
David E. Small, John H. Small and George S. Billmeyer sat in the office overlooking the assembly floor of the Spring Garden Car Works. As they watched cars systematically head down the assembly line, David could not help but reflect, “I remember when we built our first railcar over thirty years ago. It must have taken us several days to complete the assembly, and that does not count finishing and painting. Now we can turn out a finished car every nineteen minutes and should be able to do even better with this assembly line. I’ve invited a Railroad reporter in from New York to do a piece on the Spring Garden Car Works; both of you should be proud of what you’ve created. I wish Charles Billmeyer had lived long enough to see this remarkable Car Works.”
Go to Chapter 17, Part 1