In 1897, there were 1,843 miles of rural routes in the nation. By 1904, RFD routes covered over ½ million miles in the continental US. Rural Free Delivery had become an outstanding success. Even Members of Congress who had been reluctant to experiment with the idea of free rural delivery found themselves now eagerly forwarding petitions for the service to the Post Office Department. Each petition of at least 100 local signatories, held the potential for an equal number of happy voters once the service was enacted.