RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 4 . . Stowaway . . 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 4 . . . Stowaway. A new part will be posted every Thursday. New readers may want to start at the beginning.
CHAPTER 4 . . . STOWAWAY . . . Part 6
As Dan’s eyes adjusted to the darkness, he saw large cans stacked at the back end of the railcar in kind of a fenced in area and wooden crates at the front end of the boxcar. Billy at long last spoke as the train picked up speed, “Help me move some of these wooden crates, we need to make a safe cave at the front of the car before the Marietta stop.”
Billy showed Dan how to arrange the boxes to prevent them from being crushed by shifting cargo should the train make a sudden stop. Billy also cautioned Dan not to significantly change the order of the wooden crates. They pretty much moved all the wooden crates about two feet; back from the front wall of the boxcar.
They had all the crates moved by the time the train stopped at Shocks Mills. From their cave, Dan and Billy peered out tiny cracks in the side of the boxcar. They could see bags of flour or grain being loaded onto the boxcar ahead of their railcar.
Once the train had picked up speed again, Billy explained, “When I got off the northbound train a month ago at that location, I did so because a significant quantity of the wooden crates within the railcar I was inside were going to be offloaded at Bainbridge. They usually offload pretty fast, therefore I would not have been able to pick my timing to get out of the boxcar; so I got out at the mill.”
Dan asked, “How’d you know how many crates would be offloaded?” Billy explained, “Read the tags. For example I know only three crates will be offloaded at Marietta.”
Dan continued a line of questions, “How do you know about Marietta and the other stops?” Billy handed Dan a copy of the train schedule, “Before I leave, I always pick up the latest train schedule. Here’s an extra copy for you.”
“Here’s a crate tagged going to Baltimore,” noted Dan reading a tag near them. Billy held the train schedule in the best light and pointed, “There’s also crates with Wrightsville and York, so more than likely, this boxcar will head westward across the river into York before heading south to Baltimore. We might have to get off before York because I only saw three boxes with Baltimore tags. We’ll know better after stops in Columbia and Wrightsville.”
The train stop at Marietta went without a hitch. The boys were in their crate cave when the door to their boxcar opened. They heard crates being offloaded and loaded in rapid succession, whereupon the door slammed shut.
The stop at Columbia had Billy puzzled. The cars were decoupled from the Engine and the Engine left them sitting amongst several lines of railcars. Several crates and cans had been offloaded and loaded shortly after arriving; then they sat there in their crate cave all afternoon.
They were still sitting there near dusk having consumed half of the food Dan brought along. They heard people talking nearby much of the time, so they remained quite.
It was suffocating in that boxcar in the hot July sun, their canteens were long since empty of water. Billy decided that since the nearby talking of people had significantly diminished, he’d better sneak out and refill the canteens; and so he did.
Only a few minutes after Billy climbed out of the boxcar, the activity around the railcars picked up significantly. Dan feared that Billy had been caught.
Abruptly Dan heard the familiar command, “G-up,” instantly the railcars were moving. Dan did not dare open the door to see what happened to Billy, because he heard several people talking directly outside.
Dan next heard the classic sound of a horse drawn wagon going through a covered bridge. Dan became alarmed when this distinct sound continued for what seemed like forever.
Go to Chapter 5, Part 1