Transcontinental Railroad Stamps bring Stamp Collectors and Train Enthusiasts Together
On May 10, 1869, two trains met at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory, to mark the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in the United States. On May 11, 2019, stamp collectors and train enthusiasts met at Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to celebrate the 150th anniversary. The day before, the United States Postal Service issued a se-tenant set of three stamps commemorating the completion of the transcontinental railroad.
Steamtown National Historic Site is a restored railyard, complete with a roundhouse, a working turntable, Visitor’s Center, History Museum, Technology Museum, Theater, and a slew of rolling stock. It also offers rail demonstrations and train rides.
Steamtown asked the Wyoming Valley Stamp Club to have a table at their Golden Spike Day event on May 10. I manned the table with Alyssa Burrows, who is a club member and a volunteer at Steamtown.
We set up a table with a display of Alyssa’s train stamps, and we had giveaways, including packets of train stamps, philatelic newspapers and magazines (including the American Philatelist), leaflets about stamp collecting, and information about the club. The table was set up in the History Museum, which has exhibits and two restored rail cars: an Erie Railroad Business Car and a Railway Post Office Car. (Ron Breznay and the Wyoming Valley Stamp Club display table pictured, right).
The RPO car is the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Railway Post Office Car No. 1100, which was built by American Car and Foundry Company in 1914. It was the first of five all-steel, six-wheel-truck RPO cars, series 1100-1104, purchased by the L&N. It was acquired by Steamtown Foundation in 1977 and restored in 1999. The intact interior includes sorting tables and pigeonholes labeled for the last run. On the outside of the car is a hook for catching mailbags on the fly.
A USPS clerk was in the RPO car canceling covers with the new Transcontinental Railroad stamps, using the Steamtown Station hand-cancel (below).
Attendees were able to go on train rides, and there was a re-enactment of the meeting of the locomotives at Promontory Point.
Despite the History Museum's out-of-the-way location, we were able to talk to several people who were truly interested in the stamps, and did give away some stamps and other items. The museum curator and a park ranger both stopped by and asked if the Wyoming Valley Stamp Club would set up a table at Railfest (a celebration in Scranton of railroading's past, present and future) in September.
Many thanks to Ron Breznay for the photos and story about the Steamtown event - just one of many events this summer bringing train enthusiasts and stamp collectors together! Did you hear that Union Pacific's Big Boy No. 4014 train, which is going on a cross-country tour for the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad's completion, will be in Omaha at the same time as StampShow 2019? Find out more about StampShow here and check out upcoming philatelic events on the APS calendar.
Do you have a story or photos to share from a recent philatelic event, show, or exposition? We want to hear about it and share your experiences with the philatelic community! Learn more about our "Stamp-Show and Tell" blog series here.