A Visit to the West Coast Railway Heritage Park - What You Will See


RPO (Rail Post Office) Car (CPR 3704)

Mail service by train ran from 1880’s until 1972 in Canada.

This car was built in 1949 and was part of a group of 10 cars rebuilt from standard Baggage mail cars in 3600 series. Most of this car’s working career was on the route between Vancouver and Calgary. WCRA acquired the car in 1988 for preservation. It has been restored by a team of Canada Post Heritage Club volunteers and now represents a typical working mail car.

It has 50’ baggage compartment and 30’ mail compartment. Notice the floor at the north end as the slats go the opposite way. This helps to slide the mail bags in with ease. The door on the west side slides open to hook the mail bags and bring them in as the train passes the Mailbag Catch Post at stations along the way.

The train had only two scheduled stops on most runs, but many towns and communities were served "on the fly" as the train passed by the stations. The RPO car ran from Calgary to Vancouver, the trip took 21 hrs to do it. The workers would work straight through. The sorting room with sorting table, bags and mail slots kept the “posties” busy as the train wound its way “up and down the dale”...keeping on your feet was important. They had to sort 1000 pieces of mail in one hour. On display in the RPO car there is a miniature mail sorter that the employee would need to bring home to teach them how to sort 1000 pieces of mail an hour.

RPO (Rail Post Office) Car (CPR 3704)


The RPO was heated via steam from the train engine through a radiator system as the car moved over mountains, and throughout Canadian winters.

The RPO cars were always right behind the engine; this was for the safety of the gold, money, parcels etc which were in these cars.

 

 


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next: No. 2 Pacific Great Eastern Locomotive


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The West Coast Railway Association is a charitable organization
committed to preserving British Columbia's railway heritage.


West Coast Railway Association
PO Box 2790 Stn. Term.
Vancouver, B.C. V6B 3X2
Canada

Charitable business number: 119292480 RR0001