Railway Post Offices: “Men And Mail In Transit” 1956 US Post Office

Support this channel: https://paypal.me/jeffquitney OR https://www.patreon.com/jeffquitney more at http://quickfound.net/ How mail is picked up by a moving railroad train, sorted on railway cars in motion, and dispatched from the train. Originally a public domain film, slightly cropped to remove uneven…

Railway Post Offices: "Men And Mail In Transit" 1956 US Post Office

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Support this channel: https://paypal.me/jeffquitney OR https://www.patreon.com/jeffquitney

more at http://quickfound.net/

How mail is picked up by a moving railroad train, sorted on railway cars in motion, and dispatched from the train.

Originally a public domain film, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and one-pass brightness-contrast-color correction & mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railway_post_office
Wikipedia license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

In the United States, a railway post office, commonly abbreviated as RPO, was a railroad car that was normally operated in passenger service as a means to sort mail en route, in order to speed delivery. The RPO was staffed by highly trained Railway Mail Service postal clerks, and was off-limits to the passengers on the train. In the UK and Ireland, the equivalent term was Travelling Post Office (TPO).

From the middle of the 19th century, many American railroads earned substantial revenues through contracts with the U.S. Post Office Department (USPOD) to carry mail aboard high-speed passenger trains; and the Railway Mail Service enforced various standardized designs on RPOs. In fact, a number of companies maintained passenger routes where the financial losses from moving people were more than offset by transporting the mail…

The Railway post office was introduced in the United States on July 28, 1862, using converted baggage cars on the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad (which also delivered the first letter to the Pony Express). Purpose-built Railway Post Office (RPO) cars entered service on this line a few weeks after the service was initiated. Their purpose was to separate mail for connection with a westbound stagecoach departing soon after the train’s arrival at St. Joseph. This service lasted approximately one year. The first permanent Railway Post Office route was established on August 28, 1864, between Chicago, Illinois, and Clinton, Iowa. This service is distinguished from the 1862 operation because mail was sorted to and received from each post office along the route, as well as major post offices beyond the route’s end-points.

George B. Armstrong, assistant postmaster at Chicago, originally came up with the idea of having mail processed and distributed while the mail was on board, en route in mail cars. With the assistance of Schuyler Colfax, Speaker of the House at the time, and A. N. Zevely, Third Assistant Postmaster General, he was duly authorized to test his ideas.

In 1869, the Railway Mail Service (RMS), headed by George B. Armstrong, was officially inaugurated to handle the transportation and sorting of mail aboard trains. Armstrong was promoted from a supervisory position in the Chicago post office following his experiments in 1864 with a converted route agent’s car on runs between Chicago and Clinton, Iowa.

RPO car interiors, which at first consisted of solid wood furniture and fixtures, would also soon be redesigned. In 1879, an RMS employee named Charles R. Harrison developed a new set of fixtures that soon gained widespread use. Harrison’s design consisted of hinged, cast-iron fixtures that could be unfolded and set up in a number of configurations to hold mail pouches, racks and a sorting table as needed for specific routes…

By the 1880s, railway post office routes were operating on the vast majority of passenger trains in the United States…

At their height, RPO cars were used on over 9,000 train routes covering more than 200,000 route miles in North America. While the majority of this service consisted of one or more cars at the head end of passenger trains, many railways operated solid mail trains between major cities; these solid mail trains would often carry 300 tons of mail daily.

After 1948, the railway post office network began its decline although it remained the principal intercity mail transportation and distribution function within the Post Office Department (POD). There were 794 RPO lines operating over 161,000 miles of railroad in that year. Only 262 RPO routes were still operating by January 1, 1962…

After 113 years of railway post office operation, the last surviving railway post office running on rails between New York and Washington, D.C. was discontinued on June 30, 1977…

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