Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum Offers Family Program

Press Release

The National Postal Museum presents the story of Owney, the canine Railway Mail Service mascot who traveled the globe and became a good luck charm for railway mail clerks, at an interactive family program called Exploratory Post: Owney, on Saturday, Aug. 13 rom 1 to 4 p.m.

In 1888, a stray mutt wandered into the Albany, N.Y. post office and embarked upon an extraordinary adventure that would take him all over the world. Owney was attracted to the texture or scent of the mailbags and followed them when they were placed on a Railway Mail Service train. He began to ride with the bags on trains across the state—then the country. Owney made an around-the-world trip in 1895, traveling with mailbags on trains and steamships to Asia and across Europe before returning to Albany.

Railway mail clerks considered Owney a good luck charm because, at a time when train wrecks were all too common, no train Owney rode was ever in a wreck. The clerks adopted Owney as their unofficial mascot, marking his travels by placing medals and tags on his collar. Eventually, Owney’s collar was so weighed down by tags that it was traded in for a special jacket. Owney can be seen wearing his jacket on display at the National Postal Museum.

At the Exploratory Post: Owney program, visitors can create personalized Owney tags; go on a “Hound Hunt,” searching the museum for hidden Owney tags; and attend readings by Irene Kelly, author of “A Small Dog’s Big Life: Around the World with Owney,” and Dirk Wales, author of “A Lucky Dog: Owney.” After the readings, visitors will have the opportunity to have their books signed by the authors. All activities are free and reservations are not required.

The National Postal Museum is devoted to presenting the colorful and engaging history of the nation’s mail service and showcasing the largest and most comprehensive collection of stamps and philatelic material in the world. It is located at 2 Massachusetts Ave. N.E., in the Old City Post Office Building across from Union Station. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information visit the museum’s Web site at

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