National Train Day at Postal Museum 5-8-2010

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This would be especially be of interest to those of us who collect RPO (Railway Post Office) material and rail postmarks. This information is from an email I received today.

The Smithsonian National Postal Museum will celebrate National Train Day with a fun family festival. Kids will learn about life on the job for Railway Post Office (RPO) clerks by racing to sort the mail in the museum's real RPO car. They'll be immersed in the sights and sounds of the heyday of rail by tooting messages with train whistles and learning slang words used by the fast-moving RPO clerks. The event is from 11am to 5pm

The Rappahannock Model Railroad Club will run model trains during this popular event, wowing kids and adults alike as the trains zip by puffing steam. A scavenger hunt will have the whole family working together to find train stamps, history, and Owney, canine mascot of the Railway Mail Service.

In May 1869, the nation's first transcontinental railroad was completed in a "Golden Spike" ceremony in Promontory Summit, Utah. This was good news for the whole country as trains whizzed passengers and mail far and wide. In the 1860s, mail bags transported on trains were opened and sorted en route, an innovation that dramatically speeded mail processing and delivery. For over 100 years, Railway Post Office train cars were a regular sight on American railroads. Inside, clerks canceled and sorted mail, loading it into sacks for delivery to post offices across the nation. From its earliest days, work on the Railway Post Office car was the most exacting in the postal system.

Through the first decades of the 20th century, it was also the most dangerous.

The Postal Museum's new Railway Mail Service website contains a wealth of information about the service, its dangers, and the people who made it work as well as fascinating oral histories: www.postalmuseum.si.edu/RMS

Visit the Postal Museum's YouTube channel to view oral history interviews of former Railway Post Office clerks: www.youtube.com/SmithsonianNationalPostalMuseum
 


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