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Streetcar Post Offices (RPOs)

Introduction

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, the U.S. Post Office Department operated Railway Post Offices (RPOs) on streetcars in several cities. They carried mail between post office branches, with clerks sorting the mail on board to speed processing at the post offices. Some electric interurban routes also had RPOs, which served the same functions as RPOs on steam (and later diesel) railroads.

People could deposit mail on these cars, sometimes via slots in their sides. The clerks would postmark that mail on board. This page shows some examples of such mail.

Some of these cars are preserved in streetcar museums, for example:

Other Sites

Pictures of Streetcar RPO Mail

Highway Post Office

For a while, the Post Office also operated Highway Post Offices (HPOs) using bus-like vehicles. These don't really fit with the topic of this page, but I can't resist including this one because it ran through my town.


This page was last updated on 27 July 2008.


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