Notes from the Past

P.O.D. Experiment with Automobiles

The Post Office Department early recognized the advantages of the automobile.  In 1899 the Third Assistant Postmaster General, John A. Merritt, announced that the Department would experiment with the use of automobiles in the postal service in the District of Columbia.  He was convinced they would prove useful in the collection of mail and would result in a great saving of time.  The trials were to be conducted in Washington because of its asphalt streets and the almost entire absence of hills.

In the following year, the Department saw to it that an automobile was pictured on one (the 4 value) of the forthcoming Pan-American stamps which were then in process of designing for issue in 1901.  Apparently no automobiles were yet in the postal service and to picture one it was necessary to make a courtesy arrangement with the Baltimore & Ohio R.R.  The B. & O. R.R. obliged, and so that a satisfactory photograph could be secured for use on the new stamp one of their electric coaches was drive down to the Capitol grounds.  the coach was one of the vehicles which the B. & O. was using in cab service at their Washington terminal, then at New Jersey Ave., and C Street, one block from the Capitol.  

- George B. Sloane
Sloane's Column
September 28, 1946

Posted October 1, 1999

Index of 508 Notes from the Past

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