Railway Post Office (RPO’s) – Moving the U.S. mail by train.
The Railway Post Office (RPO) was introduced in the United States on July 28, 1862, using converted baggage cars on the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad (which also delivered letters 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. The Hannibal & St. Joseph RR eventually became part of the Burlington (CBQ) Railroad.
The first permanent Railway Post Office route was established on August 28, 1864, between Chicago, IL and Clinton, Iowa on the Chicago & Northwestern railway. 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.
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