Mail and Express cars

By | January 4, 2019

Railroads hauled the U.S. Mail under contract from the Government. Each railroad had cars called a Railway Post Office (RPO) used to sort mail by Postal Workers and Mail Storage Cars for bulk mail in sacks. Most passenger trains had an RPO Car that would pick up a mail bag on the fly by means of a special hook mounted on the side door. This hook can be seen in many of the RPO photographs listed below.

Mail Trains were slower because of the time making a stop to unload and load bags of U.S. Mail and Express including Milk and Cream. Cars were also picked up and dropped off along the route at railroad junctions from other Mail Trains.


RPO/Coach T&NO 468

Mail Storage Car SP 4404

Express or Baggage car, ex-RPO SP 6009

RPO/Baggage SP 5036

RPO/Baggage SP 5199,

RPO/Baggage SP 5121

RPO/Baggage SP 5124, Daylight Colors

RPO/Baggage SP 5217, Daylight Colors

RPO/Baggage SP 5032, Lightweight Car, painted Dark Lark Gray

The Railway Express Agency (REA) Company also used Baggage Cars to haul express packages. The company’s name was painted on the sides of many railroads Baggage Cars used in their service.


2 Door Baggage SP 6188, REA

2 Door Baggage SP 6236, REA

2 Door Baggage SP 6348, Milk and Cream

2 Door Baggage SP1682, Rebuilt Coach

Baggage/Mail SP 6779

COMBINES, and RIDER COACHES used on Mail Trains

Combine SP 3176, Daylight Colors

Standard Coach SP 2345, Two Tone Gray

Standard Coach SP 2532, Green

Harriman Coach SP 1360

Harriman Coach T&NO 807


Here is an interesting old photograph showing an SP Baggage Car at the Red Bluff, Ca. freight station during the mid 1950s.