The Star Route Service

Traversing a Nation

Star Route Carrier badge

As the United States expanded, so did the Star Route Service. Star Routes covered the continental United States, Hawaii, and Alaska. Contractors navigated rough terrain, bad weather, and even political corruption. The hardships of the Star Route Service were apparent from the beginning, as was the pioneering spirit of many contractors.

 

Image: Unlike letter carriers, Star Route contractors traveled their routes without uniforms. But some wore badges as a sign of their responsibilities and authority. This style of badge was issued by the Star Route Carriers Association and worn by contract drivers between 1920 and 1950.

"As our country expands in dimensions, and our settlements extend in area—as our population increases in density, and business in activity, the service of the mail must have a corresponding advancement."
—Postmaster General Jacob Collamer, 1849

Crane assists mail car
Crane assists mail car

Schribner White Horse Stage, Walcott, Wyoming to Saratoga, Wyoming
Schribner White Horse Stage, Walcott, Wyoming to Saratoga, Wyoming

Contractors pulling sled in snow, Warren, Idaho
Contractors pulling sled in snow, Warren, Idaho. Courtesy of USPS

Long line of Sodrel Contractors
Long line of Sodrel Contractors. Courtesy of Sodrel Truck Lines

Margretta M. Pierce, Captain Hannibal D. Pierce, Andrew W. Garnett, James 'Ed' Hamilton, Lillie E. Pierce, and Charles W Pierce
Left to right: Margretta M. Pierce, Captain Hannibal D. Pierce, Andrew W. Garnett, James "Ed" Hamilton, Lillie E. Pierce, and Charles W Pierce. Andrew Garnett, James Hamilton, and Charles Pierce served as barefoot mailmen. Alligators, barracudas, or sharks allegedly killed Hamilton after a traveler took his boat and he was forced to swim. Courtesy of Harvey E. Oyer III, the Voss Family Collection