RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 21 . . Weddings . . 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 21 . . . Weddings. 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 21 . . . WEDDINGS . . . Part 5
The wedding ceremony of Dan and Becky took place in the lavishly decorated Parlor of the Billmeyer House on Wednesday Evening April 22nd, 1885 at 8:30 O’clock. A temporary arbor was built in the front end of the Parlor; between the two front windows. Elaborate flowers arrangements covered the arbor and a large floral bell was suspended under which the wedding vows were exchanged.
Emma Billmeyer got the arbor and floral bell idea from the wedding she attended in Paris. It was a big hit at the wedding and the Maid of Honor, Mary Billmeyer, told Emma, “I can tell you now; I want to get married under one just like that.”
The reception followed immediately thereafter in the same room. Weeks earlier, Emma had tested out the French wedding cake recipe and got the stamp of approval from Becky and Dan. The conical tower wedding cake, made up of pastry balls filled with vanilla cream, was a big success. The guests could not stop talking about the cake; Emma gave out several recipes.
For their honeymoon, Dan and Becky got the use of the Billmeyer & Small private car for a week. The primary attraction that they planned to visit was the Luray Caverns in Luray, Virginia. Many of the other locations, where they’d be stopping, were also in the Shenandoah Valley.
The Billmeyer & Small freight transfer concept did not pan out as a way to sustain the narrow gauge part of their railcar building business, however some key contacts through the lumber part of their business were paying dividends. Much of the easily accessed timberlands were giving way to harder accessed tracts of timber. All over the country, Lumber companies were building private company railroads through their timberlands; the majority were built narrow gauge.
The Hitch Railroad and Lumber Company, in North Carolina, became a typical customer. Transporting the specialty narrow gauge railcars to lumber companies along both the east and west coasts benefited from Billmeyer & Small’s close proximity to the York & Peach Bottom Railway. They used that railway to deliver the narrow gauge railcars to Baltimore via Delta. In Baltimore, the cars would be loaded unto a steamer for their primary leg of the journey.
In 1886, Billmeyer & Small briefly got into the Street Car building business. They quickly discovered Street Car building was a crowded business, resulting in fierce competition and small profits. They preferred to built the more lavish cars favored by the railroads; producing much larger profits.
The Covington & Macon Railroad Company was chartered in 1885 to build a rail line from Macon to the town of Covington, Georgia. One of its directors was a classmate of George Billmeyer at Princeton. Billmeyer & Small got the order for the first passenger coaches on that railroad. The August 13, 1886 issue of The York Daily reported:
Billmeyer & Small is finishing a set of four cars for the Covington & Macon Railroad, broad gauge, two of which were shipped yesterday. Two are first class coaches, while two are combination passenger and baggage. The bodies are painted Tuscon red, striped in black and gold. The interiors of the first class cars are lined with quartered oak, highly polished and figured, while the combined cars are lined with ash. The cars all have light upholstery and hangings ornamented with gold, black and brown.
Billmeyer & Small had been getting a lot of business from railroads in Georgia, even narrow gauge. For example the Augusta, Gibson and Sandersville Railroad, chartered in 1884, decided to build as a narrow gauge railroad, primarily because it would be an access railway for several Georgia lumber companies already having private narrow gauge tracks on their nearby timberlands. Billmeyer & Small received orders for many of the initial railcars used by the Augusta, Gibson and Sandersville Railroad.
Go to Part 6