Above picture is an RPO at the 1939 World’s Fair
August 28, 1864, was the first run of the CHICAGO & CLINTON RPO. Although a Hannibal & St. Joseph mail car operated for a few months in 1862, 1864 marks the beginning of permanently- established Railway Post Office routes.
In 1948 there were 794 RPO lines in the United States.
By 1964 there were 219 lines and by 1970 there were only 9 main line RPO’S remaining, (including) the Great Northern’s St. Paul & Williston RPO and the Northern Pacific’s St. Paul and Miles City RPO. Both of these main line Minnesota RPO’s were discontinued along with 6 others on April 30, 1971, with only the New York & Washington RPO remaining until 1977 when it was discontinued.
On July 1, 1977, at 4:05 am, the last Railway Post Office ground to a halt at Union Station in Washington, DC.
Lot of rumors; why? Politics: rewarding airlines who made contributions. Air mail was/is a good thing New York to California. What about New York City to Hudson, NY (2/3 of the way to Albany)? Instead of using the train, mail was/is flown to Albany and trucked to Hudson.
See Remembering the last New York Central RPO Through Syracuse By Richard Palmer
Read more: Head End Equipment