COBWEB CORNERS: When mail was delivered by train
By Mel McFarland
Today most mail travels by truck and airplane. A hundred years ago it went mainly by train. Sure, there are tales of the Pony Express, but that only lasted until the railroads were built. So how did the trains deliver the mail?
Mail for Colorado City 100 years ago either came through Colorado Springs on the Rio Grande or on the Midland from the west. The railroads generally carried the fast mail in special cars where the mail was sorted by clerks en route, Slower mail, such as packages, might travel in stage coaches or wagons.
A letter mailed to Colorado City might first find itself in a bag of mail heading for towns all over Colorado. At some point, it would be sorted to join other letters going on certain routes. In a mail car, clerks would sort these letters into bundles and bags bound for specific cities and trains. Before a letter reached the final leg of the trip, it might go through sortings in several different post offices in towns or on railroads.
As a train traveled along, it would drop off mail in the towns it traveled through and pick up mail going on down the line.
In Colorado City, the postmaster visited both railroad stations every time a passenger train came through town with a mail car. Not all passenger trains had mail cars. The Midland carried most of the mail west of here. The Rio Grande carried it as far as Manitou. The postmasters knew which train had their mail and when to show up at the stations. They would then take the mail to their post office and sort it again, this time for individual mail boxes. The delivery of mail to houses in Colorado City only started about 100 years ago. Before that people went and got their mail at the post office.