RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 17 . . Production . . 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 17 . . . Production. 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 17 . . . PRODUCTION . . . Part 5
The Baltimore & Delta narrow gauge railway was certainly a passion of David E. Small. Whenever that railway put out bids for cars, he always insisted that Billmeyer & Small bid below cost. Even though Billmeyer & Small lost money on every car sold to the Baltimore & Delta Railway, it was important to David that the largest percentage of narrow gauge cars on that railway to be their cars.
David Small was keenly interested in the actions of the Maryland Central Railroad. Even though the Maryland Central had been chartered in 1867, it still was struggling with obtaining the necessary support, let alone searching for financing, to lay their first rail. David was concerned, because early in 1882, he started to hear rumors that the Maryland Central Railroad might try to take over the Baltimore & Delta narrow gauge railway and convert it to standard gauge.
This concern turned into a potential reality in May of 1882, when the Directors of the Maryland Central Railroad were successful in getting the General Assembly of Maryland to modify their 1867 Charter. As modified, the Maryland Central was now allowed to merge and consolidate with any other railroad company chartered by Maryland or Pennsylvania; that may connect with its original chartered territory.
David E. Small was one of the largest stockholders a good friend of several of the Directors of the Baltimore & Delta narrow gauge railway. Individually, these directors assured David, “Even though we continue to have good revenue, we are just covering our debt and expenses. If we had begun by selecting standard gauge, we more than likely would still be in the same boat as the Maryland Central; who stuck with their standard gauge selection, are 15-years in existence and still have never laid a single rail. The much-reduced expenses of building and operating a narrow gauge railway are the reason we exist and the reason many small communities have rail service today.”
With these reassurances, Billmeyer & Small Company continued to provide cars to the Baltimore & Delta narrow gauge railway, at below their cost. The June 29th, 1882, issue of the Evening Dispatch reported on a few of their shipments:
We noticed yesterday, a lot of cars being shipped from the Billmeyer & Small company’s car shops, for the Pennsylvania Steel company, of Steelton, Pa.; also two fine passenger coaches for the Baltimore & Delta narrow gauge, which were fine specimens of mechanism and reflects great credit upon York industries.
During July, one of the Directors of the Baltimore & Delta visited several of their large shareholders to get their opinion on consolidation. One such visit was with David E. Small. He told David, “Our lawyers have seen benefits in a consolidation of the Baltimore & Delta with the Maryland Central, primarily because the charter of the Maryland Central is very broad in its grants, and will be valuable assets to a consolidated railway. Early indicators are that the Directors of the Maryland Central favor all the Directors of the Baltimore & Delta to remain and in essence continue to operate and expand the narrow gauge railway to Delta per the established plan. Consolidation may actually result in completing the connection to Delta sooner, rather than later.”
Two weeks later, these sentiments were made public in the July 31st, 1882 issue of the Baltimore Sun.
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