Put A Train Stamp On It!

In honor of the new U. S. Postal Service stamps commemorating the 150th anniversary of the transcontinental railroad, the spotlight on collections this month is on the Railway Postal Service. You’ll find a pop-up display in at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania’s Rolling Stock Hall, which includes archival items like:

  • Service and membership pins from the Railway Mail Service, National Postal Transportation Association and the U. S. Postal Service.
  • A wooden postal tag.
  • Railway post office stamps, cancellation stamps and envelopes.
  • A postal service passport.
  • Historic photos.
  • Cancelled postcards designed and signed by artist Ted Rose, as well as other historic postcards.
  • Books, schedules of mail routes and postmaster and transit clerk instruction booklets.

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania’s railway post office car No. 5403 was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Altoona shops in 1893 to carry travelers’ baggage and U. S. mail on fast passenger trains between New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Chicago. The mail section was an actual post office on wheels, where U. S. postal department employees sorted mail en route, following pick-up and delivery of pouches at railroad stations. No. 5403 was exhibited at the 1939 World’s Fair and later became part of the famed Pennsylvania Railroad Historical Collection.

No. 5403 has been on exhibit in the Museum since 1979, and has twice served as the official cancellation site for second day of issue U. S. Postal Service train stamps, once on July 29, 1994 for the series of steam locomotive stamps and once on August 27, 1999 for the series of 20th century streamliner stamps.