Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday's Column - Post Office Museum

The smallest museum I have visited on my travels is the Post Office Museum in Redlands.  The collection is housed in what was once the postmaster's office in the main Redlands Post Office.  Although small it has a lot to see and read about if you have an interest in this arcane subject.

Redland's Spanish/Moorish 1930's Post Office
I was fascinated by the tribute and story of the blind mailman in Connecticut.  How did he manage to do it?

There is also mention of the famed Pony Express, which had lasted for just a short 18 months when it closed it business in October 1861.

It had been the brainchild of a couple of businessmen who wanted to shorten the time for a letter to go from one side of this huge country to the other.  In the days without aircraft and trains, the quickest route in the mid-nineteenth century was to sail the letter down to Louisiana then transfer to another boat going down to Panama, where it would be taken over land across the isthmus, finally to another boat to complete it's journey up the west coast of the continent.  At it's peak the pony express used 400 horses, with 184 riders, to tear across the land at speeds approaching 25 mph.

Eventually it was technology that caused the express to fold its tent.  The overland railroad was completed and the horse riders were out of a job in two days.  But the image of brave young men tearing across the plains with their satchels remains as part of American folklore

Today it is technology that is no doubt bringing the demise of the post office itself, as when was the last time you wrote a letter; on paper; with ink and then put a stamp on it?  Times have certainly changed.

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