RPO cars at Lynchburg

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Sun Dec 17 08:28:00 EST 2017

Bruce asked: "When a train arrived in Lynchburg and the RPO car changed size (for example, the Norfolk train going to Bluefield), what was the process...."

I can only describe a general procedure since I don't know specifically what was done at Lynchburg Union Station.  There would have been two different RPO crews in separate cars involved on the Columbus & Norfolk RPO East Division between Norfolk and Bluefield.  One crew was in the 30-feet RPO between Norfolk and Lynchburg.  The 30-feet westbound RPO would be switched out at Lynchburg and going eastbound, the car would be switched in.  The same would be true for the 60-feet RPO operating between Lynchburg and Bluefield.  At the origin terminal for each crew and car, they worked advance time to set up the car and begin distribution; typically, this lasted about two hours prior to scheduled departure.  At the destination terminal, the car would be switched out for the crew to unload the car and clean up.

Generally, little mail needed to make a connection between the inbound and outbound RPO car.  More likely, it made a connection to a later-arriving RPO.  The majority of mail in the car on arrival at Lynchburg was to connecting RPO routes radiating from the Union and Kemper Street stations, or to the Lynchburg post office for city delivery.

This is a good example of the gap between primary source documentation and the operational details that were executed.  The question could have been authoritatively answered by clerks working on this route or N&W personnel at Lynchburg about 50 years ago.

Happy holidays,


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