Railway Service Car

Sorting mail on moving trains was one of the postal service’s great innovations. After the Civil War, Post Office officials worked to decentralize operations, concentrating on the growing volume of mail carried on the nation’s rail lines. Mailbags left untouched on railcar floors were now emptied and their contents processed as the train sped toward its destination. This new method of sorting mail en route was developed just as railroads were connecting every corner of the country.

Location: 
Atrium
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[music]

[mail crane arm catching mailbags]

00:14

Mail clerk: The engineer would give you a certain

00:17

whistle that let you know that the local

00:20

is coming up listen for the wrong

00:22

whistle on the train

00:34

some people may think of this as

00:37

railroad employees but that's not true

00:39

because we had to take a a stiff

00:42

competitive exam that the post office

00:45

put out for railway postal clerks RPO

00:47

clerks and if we passed it we we got the

00:52

job you know you had a no year snowed

00:54

you had to know it ninety seven percent

00:57

correct I heard it said that any RPO

01:01

clerk that was worth his salt was good

01:03

for ten thousand post offices in his

01:06

distribution area one one or the other

01:09

direction of his distribution he would

01:11

have to have a working knowledge of ten

01:13

thousand post op

01:26

well the doorman had a call in each

01:29

pouch as they came in well he he cut he

01:33

cut it short in other words he would say

01:35

something like Florida dies with a -

01:39

from chick said st. Albans and mine

01:41

closed st. Albans with Whitesville 76

01:44

pound on New York and Washington dead

01:45

and dead going on further you've got

01:47

Hagar's and Roanoke that Waynesboro jack

01:49

and town turbine and Ronceverte the dot

01:51

and polka ash Lou Welch and Jake and

01:54

Jones from there on you Clifton Forge

01:57

you get rich from the Clifton Forge time

02:11

you just throw the name out or the

02:15

address out and everybody as we're still

02:17

working somebody gonna try to figure it

02:19

out

02:19

and so this was addressed to mr. hot dog

02:22

Washington DC and so we were all cured

02:26

mr. hot dog because we broke the meal

02:29

down and so finally before the trip was

02:33

out somebody said oh that's Chief

02:35

Justice frankfurter and so we said it in

02:38

the chief justice that's what we decided

02:40

it was it was somebody wrote on him mr.

02:42

hot dog

02:51

most of the fellas I'd say 99% of them

02:55

were all for one and one for all because

02:59

anybody that was stuck if somebody else

03:03

goes up on his mail he'd go and help the

03:05

fellow that was stuck because nobody sat

03:06

down and rested or laid to sleep or

03:10

anything else unless everybody was up

03:12

nobody stopped to eat until anybody

03:14

everybody could eat and it was just that

03:16

I help you you help me to her done 1977

03:22

that was the last train that ever rode

03:26

the working mail train that ever rode

03:28

the rails it was a glorious affair full

03:32

of tears and all like that but I think

03:34

if the trains were running today I would

03:37

still be on and I'm sure some of the

03:39

other because we were her dedicated we

03:41

loved that job but that was the last run

03:44

and that's to said story