Did You Know? 1862/64.

This postcard celebrating seventy years of the Railway Post Office system (1862-1932) was issued at the 1933-1934 Century of Progress World’s Fair in Chicago The Burlington Railroad offered fair-goers an exhibit with an actual postal station operating out of a modern RPO train car.

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.


Did you know? is an Our Iowa Heritage blog series that offers you a little bit of Iowa trivia from a large selection of stories on our website. Subscribe to this FREE blog and you’ll get a new email from us every Monday – Wednesday – Friday.

Join us for Our Iowa Heritage blog posts.

Learn some historical facts about Iowa City, Johnson County, or Eastern Iowa.

Amaze your friends.

Click to learn more.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s