Exhibition Dates: May 19, 2017 – September 10, 2017
Looking to speed up mail service in his city, St. Louis, MO’s postmaster experimented with adding a specially constructed trolley car to the city’s lines. This car carried mail clerks and mail instead of passengers. The car was fitted out with mail racks, tables and pigeon holes for sorting mail into while the car moved through the city. The car became an official part of the city’s mail system in 1892. Other postal officials took note.
By 1908 there were mail trolleys in Brooklyn, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Rochester, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Cleveland. While the trolleys were a great success, their life span was relatively short. Technological advances – underground pneumatic tubes and trucks would make the mail trolleys obsolete. Most cities had stopped using them by 1919. Baltimore’s mail trolleys held on until 1929, finally succumbing to trucks that could carry more mail and move freely through city streets.