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About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Fast Mail: 1912

Fast Mail: 1912

"1912. Post Office. Hupp Automatic Railway Service." Another look at the Hupp system for mail transfer to and from a moving train, this being the upload part. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

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High mail pickup

When I was a kid in small town Texas (Alma) in the 1940s, the trains picked up the mail with a similar device. I use to love to watch the mailman hook up the hourglass shaped mail bag to the holding device and swing it out close to the track. When the train sped by, a V-shaped bar extended from the mail car would catch the bag in its small center and pull it off the arms. At the same time the man in the mail car would kick the incoming mail bag out the door. I remember how much our mailman would bitch when the man in the mail car was late kicking the bag out the door and he would have to walk some ways down the track to find bag on the ground and in the tall weeds. I would like to find a video of this device in action on the net. Has anyone ever seen such a video?

Taft Inspects the Mail

The patent database has numerous entries assigned to the Hupp Automatic Mail Exchange Company. None, however, seem to match the photographed devices exactly. The National Postal Museum has a 4 minute film, Mail by Rail, which shows some mail cranes in action.

Washington Post Aug 1, 1912

Taft Sees New Mail Device

Watches Operations of Invention to Receive and Deliver From Trains

President Taft, accompanied by Maj. Thomas L. Roads, military aid, yesterday afternoon motored to Chesapeake Junction, on the Chesapeake Beach Railway, near the District Line station, to inspect personally the working of an automatic mail delivering and catching device. President Taft made a critical examination of the appliances, both on the ground and the equipment inside of the mail car of the test train of the Chesapeake Beach Railway.

He made a trip on the train inside the mail car and watched the automatic device deliver and take in the mail, the train running at a speed of approximately 40 miles an hour. Later he took position on the ground near the appliance, and saw a rapidly flying train pick up and deliver the mail pouches. He was deeply interested.

P.J. Schardt, president of the Railway Mail Clerks' Association; Mr. Hupp, owner of the device, and W.F. Jones, president and general manager of the Chesapeake Beach Railway, were present.

Just like in old cartoons!

I remember seeing this type of contraption depicted in old cartoons from the 1960s, but never thought it would be an actual way of loading mail sacks into moving trains! Fascinating!

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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