RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 19 . . Sustainable . . 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 19 . . . Sustainable. 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 19 . . . SUSTAINABLE . . . Part 3
George Billmeyer had a good relationship with the owners of the Philadelphia & Atlantic City Railway. Early in the existence of this railway, Billmeyer & Small Company occasionally transported their narrow gauge test car, with modified trucks, for testing on what was known as the fastest narrow gauge railway in America. The fastest run, covering all of P&AC Railway’s 54-miles of track, took 75-minutes; setting the 43 miles-per-hour record for narrow gauge railroads over 20-miles in length.
The P&AC Railway was built at a time when a parallel standard gauge railway to Atlantic City already existed. Prior to 1877, the Camden & Atlantic City Railroad monopolized the seaside resort business travel from the Philadelphia area to Atlantic City.
The Philadelphia area businessmen, that established the P&AC Railway, through, at the prices the Camden & Atlantic City Railroad were charging, they would quickly reap a nice profit. However competition, price wars and mismanagement eventually created financial troubles for the P&AC Railway.
The owners of the P&AC Railway were happy to sell when the Philadelphia & Reading railroad wanted to extend their lines into Atlantic City. It was always the intent of the Philadelphia & Reading railroad to convert their new rail line to standard gauge.
The newly converted standard gauge Philadelphia & Atlantic City Railroad opened October 6, 1884. A week later, the private standard gauge Billmeyer & Small railcar was being pulled at the end of a scheduled train, along these tracks to Atlantic City, for a fall Billmeyer family excursion to the seashore. This extended weekend was George and Emma Billmeyer’s treat, prior to leaving on their trip to Europe.
They had rented a massive cottage along the beach. Besides George and Emma, this excursion included his three younger siblings Charles, William and Mary, Charles’ family, plus Dan and Becky.
It had been over 24 years since Dan had moved from the area that he was about to pass through. He was only 8 years old when his guardian Uncle Rufus, moved him from his birthplace in New Jersey to Pennsylvania. Sure, he had been back in New Jersey when he visited George Billmeyer at Princeton; however that trip did not put him so close to the place where he was born and grew up.
The train stopped at the Clementon station to take on passengers and for the engine to take on water. Dan grabbed Becky’s hand and they quickly got off the car. George Billmeyer cautioned, “I know this stop is short. Don’t go very far.”
Dan wanted to see how Clementon had changed, however they did not get very far before they had to scurry back to the train, when they heard the “All Aboard” call. Dan sat in silence, as the train continued on its way. Memories of the last time he visited Clementon flooded his mind.
Two weeks before his parents and siblings drown in the ferry accident, Dan got a guided tour of Clementon by his father. His dad, Wyatt, carted finished goods from the Spring Mills Agricultural Works. Dan had reached the age where he was allowed to occasionally accompany this father on Saturday deliveries. These deliveries included the exciting big city of Philadelphia to much smaller local towns, such as Clementon. Dan was amazed as his memory recalled minuscule details of that visit to Clementon almost 25 years ago.
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