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The Second Postal History Symposium

Further, Farther, Faster: Transportation Technology and the Mail
October 21-22, 2007
American Philatelic Center, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania

Pilot's view of the approach to Bellefonte airfield
Pilot's view of the approach to Bellefonte airfield. The large white circle at bottom center marks the recommended landing spot.

The Postal History Symposium, a national conference sponsored by the American Philatelic Society and the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, provides a forum for philatelists, academic scholars, public historians, and the interested public to discuss and present research that integrates philately or the history of postal operations into the broader context of American history. This year's Symposium explored how, through the application of new technologies for transporting the mail, the post office and the transportation industry have encouraged, supported, and benefited from each other's growth and development.

The Symposium opened on Sunday, October 21 (immediately following the Aerophilately 2007 national philatelic exhibition) with an evening reception and plenary session featuring scholars of a variety of postal and transporation technologies. Monday's papers explored the postal-transportation nexus in three moderated panels—Land, Sea, and Air. New to this year's Symposium is the addition of poster presentations, six of which were available for viewing throughout the event.

The Airmail Pioneers Memorial, on the grounds of the American Philatelic Center, commemorates the
The Airmail Pioneers Memorial, on the grounds of the American Philatelic Center, commemorates the "valiant young pilots" who died carrying mail over the Alleghanies.

Bellefonte, 15 miles from State College, was an historically appropriate venue for the Symposium's subject matter. Westbound pilots on the pioneer air mail route between New York and Chicago stopped there for gasoline and motor oil before attempting the treacherous Allegheny Mountains crossing known as "Hell's Stretch". A 1921 flight manual for air mail pilots described the eastern approach to Bellefonte this way:

Bellefonte will be seen against the Bald Eagle Mountain Range . . . The mail field lies just east of town and is marked by a large white circle. A white line marks the eastern edge of the field [beyond which] there is a drop of nearly 100 feet.

This quiet central Pennsylvania town thus witnessed the drive for "further, farther, faster" mail delivery first-hand. Although the advent of longer-range aircraft in the mid-1920s made refueling stops at Bellefonte unnecessary, this chapter of local history is recalled by the Pioneer Air Mail Memorial.

Getting There

How to get to Bellefonte

Travel directions to the American Philatelic Center


Where to stay in or near Bellefonte, PA

Additional Resources

Winton M. Blount Symposium on Postal History

The 2006 Winton M. Blount Symposium on Postal History website

The American Philatelic Society

Learn about the APS and the American Philatelic Center

Organizing Committee

Virginia L. Horn, American Philatelic Research Library 
David L. Straight, American Philatelic Society
Daniel A. Piazza, Smithsonian National Postal Museum 

Contact Information

For further information please email: NPM Research Chair