Notes from the Past

Rural Free Delivery

A giant step forward in the US mail service was taken with the introduction of Rural Free Delivery on October 1, 1896.  The first routes were established in West Virginia and based on the towns of Uvilla, Halftown, and Charlestown.  There were more than 80 routes in 29 states by the end of 1896, each served by a horse-drawn RFD wagon.  By the 1960s, there were 32,000 routes, serving 34,000,000 patrons.

RFD postmarks were mostly of the straight-line type, which included a four-line inscription with the letters "R.F.D." on the top and town, date, and state on the subsequent lines.  The  route number appeared in the killer portion.

"Mailed on Rural route" is an endorsement marking, found in straight-line type and circular with a killer attached. 


- Kenneth A. Wood
This is Philately - Volume Three Q-Z
Van Dahl Publications 1982
Posted October 11, 2000

Editor's Note:  I live on an R.F.D. route even though the community appears passably citified.  R.F.D. personnel drive an assortment of postal vehicles and even their own, on occasion.

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