James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Presumably Robert travelled to join Isabella in Utica and they returned home together, possibly using the expanding railroad network to make the journey. The timing of the arrival of the railway in the Peach Bottom area had coincided with Robert's move into quarry ownership; the Peach Bottom Railway, opened in 1876 between York and Delta, was extended in 1884 to include Whiteford and Cardiff, Md.. It facilitated the movement of slate to customers worldwide and brought in resources for the quarries but it was so much preferred to local roads and the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal that it was barely able to cope with demand. One report [The Delta Herald, 22 Sept 1893] mentioned that Robert's company was transporting by boat roofing slate to cover the Memorial Institution near Port Deposit, Md., about ten miles down the Susquehanna River from Peach Bottom and on the opposite bank. Whilst on the subject of travel, a friend of the family reported that Robert, Isabella and one of their daughters visited him in the United Kingdom at some point though I have found no other evidence of this. [Y Negesydd, 21 Mar 1907]

By the summer of 1895, despite a general slow down in trade, Robert had begun a tunnel to the 'big quarry' which had been flooded for many years. "Trade wheels turn slowly here this summer. Work was stopped in one of the main quarries here this week, it is not known for how long but it is because they cannot sell the slate. … Although R L. Jones, Esq., now has more slate on the banks than he had ever had before, he says he has enough confidence to spend thousands of dollars on the tunnel, to expand his quarries." [YD 12 Sep 1895] It seems his confidence was shared by fellow proprietors and by others. It was reported in the Baltimore Sun and York Dispatch that a syndicate of venture capitalists from Baltimore, Cleveland, Philadelphia and New York with $100,000 capital and represented by John S. Bull, Baltimore, had acquired a local quarry that had lain idle for years, so they were expecting Peach Bottom slate to yield a profit. (It is not known whether Robert used such resources to fund his expansion.) However, the existing proprietors must have wondered how this development would affect their futures. [YD 14 Nov 1895 [] Incidentally, that report concluded with the paragraph: "The tunnel that has been set up to the old large quarry is successfully under the supervision of John H. Thomas & Son, Wilkesbarre. It seems we shall not have to live a long time to see the old quarry dried again, and thinking of the future success of the new quarries that are already intended to open here, I have more faith in the old big quarry than all of them. And from the skilled care of its present owner, R. L. Jones, it is sure to become a bread-winner for plenty of workers for many years yet, and we hope to bring thousands of dollars in addiction to the wealth of its owner." The previous Y Drych report warned that wages were likely to increase by 10 to 20 per cent to add to the huge financial risk Robert was taking with the cost of the tunnel but, on the plus side, there was the prospect of a free trade agreement which could boost slate sales abroad.