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 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 3
There was a nice contingent from York to greet the steamship carrying George and Emma Billmeyer; as it docked in New York City. At the dock were: their friends Dan and Becky, George’s business partner John H. Small and his wife Margaret, George’s sister Mary Billmeyer, and John Small’s nephew Henry Small. Also, a Billmeyer servant and a Small servant were with the Billmeyer & Small private railcar, which was sitting at the Exchange Place rail yard in Jersey City, New Jersey.
George arranged for a baggage service to collect and deliver their luggage to the New Jersey siding where the Billmeyer & Small private railcar sat. Whereupon, the group of eight boarded two carriages to take them to George’s favorite restaurant; Delmonico’s on Beaver Street. Ever since his father first took him along on a business trip to New York City, it had become a tradition for George; that every visit to the city must include a meal at Delmonico’s Restaurant.
George and Emma Billmeyer told tales about their European trip. George elaborated on the luxurious Express d’Orient rail journey from Paris to Vienna. Emma only wanted to talk about Paris, until the subject of train travel through the Swiss Alps came up. George and Emma tried to describe the amazing picturesque scenery, however they ultimately concluded it was so breathtaking; they were not able to put the experience in words.
Following the meal, the group boarded two carriages to take them to the ferry dock in lower Manhattan. They took a passenger ferry across the Hudson River to Exchange Place and had a very short carriage ride to the Billmeyer & Small private railcar.
While waiting for the car to be joined to a train, the men gathered around model mock-ups. The women and servants sat in another group as Emma described the wedding she had attended in Paris and her ideas for Becky’s marriage to Dan.
George Billmeyer was impressed with the model mock-ups; having been created based upon the letter he penned in Vienna. Just as George described, the larger than normal shipping boxes were not meant to ship inside a freight car; they are meant to ship on a special flat car.
John Small noted, “Henry and Dan worked out the ideal shipping box dimensions so that all of the narrow gauge flat car surface and standard gauge flat car surface is utilized. As you can see, the arrangement of boxes on the narrow gauge flat car is a given. These mock-ups show the three possible box placement arrangements we’ve come up with for standard gauge cars.” As the men discussed the pros and cons of each of the three alternatives, their car was connected to a train bound for Philadelphia, where they would connect to a homeward bound train.
Emma Billmeyer told the ladies every detail about the Paris wedding and reception for Jeanne and Grant. Emma asked Becky, “What do you think about using these ideas for your wedding?” Becky replied, “I like them all; however I don’t know if we can afford all of them.” Emma countered; “Don’t worry about the cost, that will be our wedding gift to you and Dan.”
The men decided on a box placement arrangement on standard gauge cars and started sketching details of the skidding channels and quick connect tie-down hardware to match the standardized wooden shipping boxes. George and John set a goal of having a few full size flat cars and enough of the standardized shipping boxes to prove out and demonstrate the concept within a corner of the York Car Works in three weeks.
Their ultimate goal was to take several demonstrators around the country early in 1885 to build support for the concept. However more important would be building consensus on a national standard; which was the only way this concept would have a chance at success.
Go to Part 4