RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 9 . . Lincoln . . 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 9 . . . Lincoln. 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 9 . . . LINCOLN . . . Part 5
Charles Billmeyer knew how to push his son’s buttons. George buckled down on his schooling the rest of the school year without Charles saying another word.
The following summer, of ’64, there was another rebel scare in York when Confederates invaded Pennsylvania again. Over 500 structures in Chambersburg were burn to the ground by the rebels; was York next? Chambersburg was barely 60 miles west of York.
Panic invaded the city. There was the prevailing feeling around town that York would not be spared this time when the Rebels arrived.
Billmeyer & Small were well underway in loading their key drawings and equipment into railcars as refugees from towns to the west started to flood through York. Thankfully word reached York that the rebels, just as quickly crossed back over the Potomac River, returning to Virginia.
In November, Charles Billmeyer is glad that President Lincoln was re-elected; believing Lincoln offered the best chance of quickly ending the war while still preserving the union. George was now 15 years old. Charles is fearful of becoming like so many of his neighbors; with sons killed in the War.
Charles Billmeyer and his partner David E. Small had been hearing rumors, throughout 1864, of a new railroad running through York County. However that is all they turned out to be; rumors. January 1865 changed all that; a party of surveyors, engineers and workmen were first spotted in the Fishing Creek Valley in Windsor and Lower Windsor Townships.
This survey party was somewhat secretive in what they were doing; making up all kinds of odd reasons for asking permission to go through peoples’ land to take measurements. Once several people in the area overheard the word railroad, the secret spread rapidly.
Billmeyer and Small wanted more information on this railroad, however nothing was forthcoming from the, as yet, unknown backers. Charles suggested sending George and Dan out on a spying mission; maybe they could overhear details by hanging around the survey work party and striking up friendships with some of the younger workers.
George and Dan jumped at the chance. Charles worked it out with their teachers how the boys would make up a week lost from their studies. Each day during that week the boys would leave home at sunrise and return at sunset. They caught up with the survey party as they had reached the headwaters of Fishing Creek and were taking measurements in the area of Neff’s Summit in York Township.
The plan worked! At weeks end George reported to his father, “Some financiers are investigating an alternate railroad route between Washington, D.C. and New York City. The backers would help rebuilt the bridge between Columbia and Wrightsville in exchange for some land concessions. The railroad route through York County would travel south from Wrightsville next to the canal, along the eastern shore of the Susquehanna River.”
George continued, “In the vicinity of Fishing Creek the railroad would turn inland and follow that valley to Neff’s Summit in York Township. From there the railroad would follow the ridge south into Hopewell Township, thought Apple Grove and continue along that ridge line, through Shrewsbury Township to New Freedom; joining up with the Northern Central at that point.”
Charles Billmeyer and David E. Small told George and Dan that they made a fine spy team. The boys thoroughly enjoyed their spying mission.
A month after President Lincoln’s second inauguration, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders his Army to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia on April 9th 1865. Five days later President Lincoln is shot and dies the following day. The nation that had rejoiced the end of the War is suddenly in mourning.
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