DCSIMG

The Early Years

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This envelope was processed on a St. Louis RPO trolley and postmarked St. Louis & Webster Groves, Trip 12, March 7, 1899
This envelope was processed on a St. Louis RPO trolley and postmarked St. Louis & Webster Groves, Trip 12, March 7, 1899

Postmaster Harlow tested the new service in 1891. The first service began the next year. Brooklyn, NY followed, inaugurating its service in 1894.

Mail trolley cars were painted white to stand out. In some cities, street collection boxes at some intersections were also painted white – designating them for use in conjunction with the trolleys.

By the end of 1895 Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. were using mail trolleys. Seventy-five clerks worked on mail trolley cars, handling more than 500,000 pieces of mail a day.

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Brooklyn RPO trolley car #5 from the Fulton St. line
Brooklyn RPO trolley car #5 from the Fulton St. line

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Cincinnati RPO trolley car #215
Cincinnati RPO trolley car #215

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This postcard was processed on a Chicago RPO trolley on the Chicago & Wentworth line, November 12, 1903
This postcard was processed on a Chicago RPO trolley on the Chicago & Wentworth line, November 12, 1903

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Chicago RPO trolley car #8
Chicago RPO trolley car #8

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This envelope was processed on Philadelphia’s Germantown RPO trolley on March 21, 1898, Trip #36
This envelope was processed on Philadelphia’s Germantown RPO trolley on March 21, 1898, Trip #36

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Philadelphia RPO car M-1. The city’s RPO trolleys were numbered M-1 through M-8
Philadelphia RPO car M-1. The city’s RPO trolleys were numbered M-1 through M-8

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This envelope, addressed to Rear Admiral Dewey, then serving in the Philippines, was processed on a Washington, D.C. RPO trolley in 1898
This envelope, addressed to Rear Admiral Dewey, then serving in the Philippines, was processed on a Washington, D.C. RPO trolley in 1898

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Washington, D.C. RPO trolley car #1
Washington, D.C. RPO trolley car #1