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 Post subject: Re: A few questions
PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2020 2:22 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:51 pm
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Location: Southern California
End of Railway Post Office service is best told with this quote from the Wikipeda page about the service:
Quote:
When the post office made a controversial policy change to process mail in large regional "sectional centers," mail was now sorted by large machines, not by people, and the remaining railway post office routes, along with all highway post office routes, were phased out of service. In September 1967 the POD cancelled all "mail by rail" contracts, electing to move all First Class mail via air and other classes by road (truck) transport. This announcement had a devastating effect on passenger train revenues; the Santa Fe, for example, lost $35 million (US) in annual business, and led directly to the ending of many passenger rail routes.

After 113 years of railway post office operation, the last surviving railway post office running on rails between New York and Washington, D.C. was discontinued on June 30, 1977

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 Post subject: Re: A few questions
PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2020 1:40 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:47 pm
Posts: 612
Location: Philadelphia, PA
The Post Office Department (POD) did not cancel all mail contracts in September, 1967. In some cases, there was no alternate service. Many mail routes were abolished that date; others continued when it was in the POD's interest to do so. When Amtrak came in on May 1, 1971, there were eight RPO routes still operating.

Amtrak was initially not authorized to carry mail so seven of the eight routes ended. However, there was still a need to move mail overnight between New York and Washington, so POD contracted with Penn Central to continue with one train. The logic was the same as in 1927 when PRR E6s 460 moved films of Charles Lindbergh's arrival in Washington to New York faster than competitors who flew them. The films moved by PRR were processed enroute.

One of PC's pre-Amtrak RPO trains had been mail and express only so it was a simple matter to add a mail and express train in the opposite direction. These trains initially carried four full RPO cars, sorting the mail enroute so when the train arrived the mail was ready for distribution.

By 1977 the route was down to two full RPO's and POD decided it was too expensive to continue as it used very senior clerks to manually sort the mail when machines were doing it elsewhere.

So the night of June 30, 1977, the last RPO's left New York and Washington.

The Westward/Southward train 3 was declared the last run and was pulled by GG1 4935 in PRR pinstripes.

Phil Mulligan

NOTE: RPO cars generally had 15, 30 or 60 foot mail apartments. A "full" RPO had a 60 foot mail apartment regardless of the length of the car itself.


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 Post subject: Re: A few questions
PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2020 8:50 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2020 1:51 pm
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Location: Bucureşti, Capitala României / Bucharest, Capital of Romania
But after 1977 the post night service was done exclusevely by auto between N.Y.C. and Washington D.C.?

Curiosity: there where every trains that had record players on-board. Or reel to reel tape recorders? I know about radios o board.

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 Post subject: Re: A few questions
PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2020 9:27 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:25 pm
Posts: 1962
Here are postmarks from the WAS-NYP RPO. One is from the final run. The Amtrak ticket envelope is earlier. In those days you could walk trainside at Washington Union Station and make the cancellation request.
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 Post subject: Re: A few questions
PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2020 10:17 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:47 pm
Posts: 612
Location: Philadelphia, PA
RPO cars had a mail slot for deposit of mail, just like a mailbox. Everybody suggested you hand the mail to a clerk yourself though.

The clerks were pretty busy as only a POD employee could load mail through the narrow doors of the RPO Mail Apartment. Inside was a secure area: only authorized personnel. And the clerks were armed. (usually a Colt .38 Detective Special in a belt holster.)

As to how the mail moves after July 1, 1977, I'm pretty sure they sort it at a sectional center and truck it between NY, Phila, Wilm, Balto and Was. They can't meet next morning delivery without the train.

BTW wesp's last day cover is from ConRail #4, the Northward/Eastward train WAS to NY.

Phil Mulligan


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 Post subject: Re: A few questions
PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2020 4:34 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2020 1:51 pm
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Location: Bucureşti, Capitala României / Bucharest, Capital of Romania
@ wesp : what cancelation?

Did the mail cars ever had automatic/semiautomatic arms for picking up or letting mail bags? I've seen such arms for train orders (I don't remember where).

"Pullman" roomette presentation: http://streamlinermemories.info/Mfrs/Pu ... omette.pdf

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 Post subject: Re: A few questions
PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2020 7:46 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:47 pm
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Location: Philadelphia, PA
Yes. RPO cars did catch and throw mail at points where the trains did not stop. They weren't automatic; the RPO clerk raised the arm himself and threw the mail himself.

Here's a model of an RPO catcher arm. The clerk simply threw the mail being delivered off the train making sure it went far enough to not fall under the train.

https://www.walthers.com/mail-catcher-a ... cars-pkg-2

Here's a very old video of mail being caught (and thrown)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lVSC4jt2R8

And from inside the car on a museum line.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_ae2e5ygpQ

Phil Mulligan


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 Post subject: Re: A few questions
PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2020 10:59 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2020 1:51 pm
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Location: Bucureşti, Capitala României / Bucharest, Capital of Romania
In cartoons I've seen a man holding in his hand a rod/stick with a hook in one of the ends. Did it was only cartoonists' imagination or that system was used too?
How did they deliverd small parcels like cameras (not big movie ones), records (shellac and vinyl), books?

Here is the add that I was looking for.


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 Post subject: Re: A few questions
PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2020 11:56 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:47 pm
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Location: Philadelphia, PA
Parcels and anything marked "fragile" could not be handled by catching or delivery by a moving train. There are multiple classes of US Mail, one of which is Parcel Post. These are usually sorted in stationary Post Offices and moved as "closed pouch" mail in baggage or express cars.

"a man holding in his hand a rod/stick with a hook in one of the ends." sounds like a train order. These are instructions from the Train Dispatcher to the train and are telegraphed or telephoned to a station agent or block operator to write down and deliver to the Conductor and Engineer of every train affected by the order. For some orders the train has to stop and the crew sign for them but others can be delivered while the train is in motion.

One of the older delivery devices looks like a stick with a hoop at one end; newer ones look like a stick with a "Y" at one end. With the former the train crewmen (engineer or fireman, and the conductor) lean out and the operator holds it so they can catch the hoop in their arms. They haul it aboard and remove the written orders and clearance card, and throw the hoop down so the operator can recover it. With the Y-shaped device the operator ties the order between the legs of the Y, and the rope runs down each leg and is tied in a triangle. The train crewmen pit their arms through the triangle and catch the orders. The operator retains custody of the device. There are also fixed structures at the right height to deliver orders to an engine or cabin car (caboose).

Each Train Order Office has a signal to show an approaching crew if there are orders, and if they have to stop and sign or pick them up on the fly.

Phil Mulligan


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 Post subject: Re: A few questions
PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2020 12:26 am 

Joined: Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:21 pm
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Location: Danbury, CT
KCS sent out a notice announcing the discontinuation of passenger services. I have a copy in my collection. The loss of RPO’s was partially to blame as well as the traveling public’s shift to using other conveyances funded by government money and supported by government agencies. Despite their valiant efforts, KCS felt that its passenger services had fallen out of favor with the public and were ultimately abandoned by the Post Office Department.


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 Post subject: Re: A few questions
PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2020 10:24 am 

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Location: Bucureşti, Capitala României / Bucharest, Capital of Romania
Reading that makes me sad and angry... how much the humanity had lost...

I'm curios if it's true that the ideea of dome car camed after someone heared that people will pay event 500 $ to ride in the place of the engenieer/fireman.

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 Post subject: Re: A few questions
PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2020 11:56 am 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
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djl wrote:
This have had to be a wonder when it camed out: https://www.shorpy.com/node/18299?size= ... al#caption



They were indeed wonders back then. The Milwaukee Road did a lot of promotion of the superiority of electric traction over steam power. They staged a series of competitions between electric motors and steam locomotives, usually in the form of a tug-of-war or shoving match. It seems that every competition involved an articulated steam locomotive and in one case, the tug-of-war was a motor versus an articulated steam locomotive and a 2-8-0. The steam locomotives were unceremoniously dragged away (drivers madly thrashing) by the motor.

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 Post subject: Re: A few questions
PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2020 1:47 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2020 1:51 pm
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Location: Bucureşti, Capitala României / Bucharest, Capital of Romania
Compared to it's size, electric locomotive is the most powreful along the locomotives. But steam articulated locomotives where powreful machines during theyr era.
I can image how it was to ride elctrified lines in the mountains ("Milwaukee Road" or "Great Norten Railway") and enjoy scenery with no smoke. I like steam locomotives a lot, but I must agree that some did produce a lot of smoke and powder. Having clean view, clean air (before the air condition era), observation cars (in the early era with platform at the end), had to be amazing. But this is a bygone era too...


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 Post subject: Re: A few questions
PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2020 7:23 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:47 pm
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Location: Philadelphia, PA
Modern dome cars are the result of an EMD official riding the cab of an EMD FT Diesel on the D&RGW. He passed his idea to the CB&Q which rebuilt a Budd flat-top coach into a dome car.

This was successful, and in May, 1947 Pullman-Standard built the Train of Tomorrow as an exhibition train with four dome cars. Also, later in 1947, Budd built new Twin Zephyr trains for CB&Q's Chicago-Twin Cities trains, where "Nature smiles for 300 miles."

There was no surcharge to ride in the dome.

Phil Mulligan


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 Post subject: Re: A few questions
PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2020 7:35 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2020 1:51 pm
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Location: Bucureşti, Capitala României / Bucharest, Capital of Romania
I wonder if this managed to attract for some time people to ride the train.
Funny thing that in Europe, where the double deck cars where invented before W.W. 1 (by the French), no one ever had the ideea. Well, double deck cars wheren't common before '50's-'60's.
After I posted the drawing-add with the "Great Northen" observation car I noticed it was in fact the cover of an annotated timetable. I wonder what did it contained. I want me such an old time table (old U.S.A. books are intresting), but getting one so old and having sent it to Europe...

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