Tuesday, February 26, 2008

To Test New Mail Device for Trains


WASHINGTON. — After a series of tests continuing since February the Postoffice Department has arranged for a formal six months' tryout of an invention for delivering and picking up mails by fast trains. As a demonstration of the practicability of the system a live pig, weighing 85 pounds, was recently delivered without injury at Carrollton, Ky., the home of the inventor, without the slightest injury from a train running 25 miles an hour.

For years the Postoffice Department has sought an improved method of picking up and delivering mails over the old catcher-hook system, and the new device was the result of four years' advertising by the postal authorities, urging inventors to produce something that would meet the requirements.

It is 40 years since the catcher hook came into use, and in spite of the progress in railroading and the tremendous improvement in the mail service along other directions no forward step is recorded in the matter of exchanging mail sacks by moving trains. Under this system only one small sack could be picked up at any one station, and it is a matter of official history that not infrequently, instead of catching the suspended sack of mail, the hook, operated by a mail clerk standing in the open door of the car, would snatch up a chicken coop or something else not to be found in any classification of mail matter.

The delivery of mail from moving trains is still more primitive, consisting merely of having the clerk hurl or push the sacks out of the car as the train rushes past the platform. Great numbers of persons have been injured and some killed by being struck by the whirling and rebounding sacks, thrown with the force of a catapult.

In a number of instances the bags of mail have rolled under the wheels of the train and have caused wrecks or have been ground to pieces and the mail destroyed. And these defects do not take into consideration the tremendous wear and tear on the mail bags and pouches, one of the largest items of expense to the railway mail service.

The new device has passed through a successful test of six months at Burnside station, and this decided the government to give the more extended trial.

Note: In 1910, back in that general time, "post office" was one word.

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