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Author Topic: WW&F RPO  (Read 971 times)
John Kokas
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« on: June 17, 2017, 12:28:13 PM »

Did the WW&F ever have an official RPO?  If so, what car number was it and what was its history?  Could we replicate one if the desire and funding/manpower is available in the future?
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Paul Horky
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« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2017, 07:48:22 PM »

  John
  Yes the WW&F had RPO service. In fact for that service they had 3 cars. Starting with car #1 a baggage, express, & RPO. The second was car #5 or 6 cannot remember witch later #2. The third was #7 later #3. The #5 or 6 witch ever Later #2 was a RPO, baggage, & coach. The #7 later #3 was the car on the last train when engine #8 took a spill south of Whitefield. This wreck ended rail service on WW&F.

                                              Paul
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Paul Uhland
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« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2017, 09:07:24 PM »

Not to dampen your parade, but I see little benefit in replicating an RPO, unless WW&F plans on running mail/express service between local towns., if they could.
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Paul Uhland
Stephen Piwowarski
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« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2017, 09:24:30 PM »

The benefit to replicating some sort of RPO service would be to added ability to interpret an important part of the original railway for our visitors. The mail contract was an important part of the railway's business and were an important feature that this new, faster method of transportation was able to provide. That said, it is not part of our current coach recreation and reconstruction program. Perhaps borrowing B&SR #11 in the future, which closely reflects the appearance of WW&F #1 will allow us to recreate the original consist of #1,2, and 3.

Steve
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Wayne Laepple
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« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2017, 10:28:08 PM »

I am aware of two or three rail museums that have obtained a special permit from the Postal Service to operate a Railway Post Office for one day. They promote the event and visitors buy postcards which are then cancelled with an RPO cancellation, loaded in a mailbag and taken to the local post office for forwarding on. There is no reason why we could not look into such an event at some point if there is interest in doing so. It's not something to be done on an annual basis, but could probably be done every couple or three years.
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Joe Fox
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« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2017, 12:51:56 AM »

My favorite car I think would be a great addition is a coach 6. Which could be set up on the inside like the original with the post office desk, etc. Then on a day to day operation in the future it could be used as a snack bar and bathroom.
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John Kokas
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« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2017, 01:48:12 AM »

Joe, I like the way you're thinking.  If we can RPO - sells postcards, can it also be a concession - yes but not all the time (Easter, Vic Xmas, etc.) , can it also be a lunch/snack center for those photo specials - oh yeah!  And on SWW & FWW - it can double as the lunch wagon!
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Stephen Piwowarski
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« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2017, 04:26:58 AM »

When our line grows in length, I don't know that it will ever warrant on board concessions. They were never formally offered by the original railway. To me it sounds a bit tourist railroad-y and inauthentic. What I could see people really getting into and being authentic would be someone walking through the aisles selling various things of interest. That way it is both authentic to the original railway and purpose serving.
Personally, I like the idea of one day recreating 6, but I'd prefer it to be an accurate replica used for its actual purpose rather than it being used as a stand in for modern conveniences. Wayne's suggestion sounds very neat, and if we have the opportunity, we should make an effort to make it happen.

Steve
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Wayne Laepple
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« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2017, 05:24:48 PM »

In this discussion of Railway Post Office operations on the WW&F, it needs to be noted that the railroad did not pick up mail "on the fly." This is the really exciting, dramatic part of the Railway Mail Service operations that everyone likes to see, but as far as I understand, it never happened on the WW&F. Rather, the mail bag was loaded aboard and mail was dropped off during the station stop by a mail clerk on the train. I presume the clerk sorted mail between stations.

In the early 1960's, when I was a teenager, there were still working RPO's on some Reading Company trains on my hometown Bethlehem Branch. However, because the trains made multiple stops, mail was not picked up nor dropped off on the fly. I remember, however, the mail slot in the side of the RPO cars, and once or twice I dropped a post card into the slot, just so a friend who was into collecting RPO cancellations could get one.

There was even one long-distance mail train that ran daily between Reading Terminal in Philadelphia and Syracuse, NY. It carried working RPO cars and multiple mail storage and express cars, but it did not make any stops nor pick up except at several crew change points. Its routing was Reading to Bethlehem, Central of New Jersey to Scranton, Erie-Lackawanna to Syracuse. I can clearly remember hearing it as it passed nearby my home around midnight, usually with two Alco RS-3's snorting away and a dozen or more cars. On quiet summer nights I could hear those M-3 horns calling for crossing several miles away as it approached and then retreated into the night.
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Joe Fox
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« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2017, 02:53:03 AM »

That is correct Wayne. Mail was picked up at each scheduled station stop.

I also want to see a coach 6 fully replicated, however, I think having it be dual purposed would be a great thing. Then on select functions it could be kept as a functional Postal car. My only fear with keeping a RPO as a strictly RPO functioned car would prevent it from being used regularly.

Sometimes modern additions should be supplemented to keep interests up. Another thought I have been toying with is finding a way to put up a few reprints up of original pictures of the original railway that we travel on today.
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Wayne Laepple
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« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2017, 02:59:41 AM »

One thought I had with regard to the postal "apartment" in car 6 was to make it removable. The three walls could be fastened together and to the floor in such a manner that each section could be unbolted and lifted out through the baggage door. I have also thought about folding bench seats along the walls of the baggage section, which was a feature available in Jackson & Sharp cars. While there is no evidence that this car was so equipped, it is possible.
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Stephen Piwowarski
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« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2017, 03:51:19 PM »

If we needed additional seating capacity, I guess that would be a worthwhile avenue to explore. However, as it stands, only our Easter and Christmas trains come close to our train capacity and we will be adding another coach (No. 9) within several years. And this capacity alone, doesn't spell success for us. We need to have appropriate ancillary facilities to match the capacity of our trains. In this sense (station platform capacity, speed of visitor flow, to name a few) we are already close to our peak on those days.
I believe we do have J&S floorplans for #6, so it shouldn't be impossible to find out about those folding seats. It's a neat idea. As for coach 6, or coach 1 for that matter, once we reach 218 or Head Tide I could see it being used to carry bicycles so that visitors could do a train-bike loop or some other use baggage related. We could use the slot in the postal section as a place for visitors to mail postcards sold on board the train. There are lots of options we just have to get creative.
The last thing I want to see is us falling into the same habits as other railways. While modern additions could be seen as a draw, they can also be a distraction from the atmosphere that you are trying to create and the points that we are trying to reinforce. By trying to cater to the masses, we could mistakenly dilute our mission/goals and fall short by trying to be a jack of all trades and a master of none.

For example, Cumbres and Toltec has a gift shop and concession car. They also have absolutely world class scenery, so the authenticity is not nearly as much of the attraction. If the scenery wasn't so great, and the railway wasn't so impressive the experience would have fallen short. Many cars are simply passenger car bodies built on freight car frames. If this was the sole attraction, without the amazing locos and beautiful railway, I probably wouldn't have gone.

To me, our draw is our authenticity- it is our strongest hand, so to speak. We should capitalize on that aspect to the greatest degree possible. I would love to see news butchers and vendors going up and down the aisles peddling their wares and platform vendors at the bigger stations- if there is evidence that this once existed. No railway, to my knowledge, is providing this experience, and it could provide an important convenience, while also giving a snapshot into how this mode of transportation once functioned.

Steve
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Philip Marshall
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« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2017, 04:15:42 PM »

I love Stephen's idea of carrying bicycles! Bicycling was a hugely popular activity in the 1890-1910 period, until the automobile became affordable to the common man, and there is evidence that other Maine Two-Footers offered this service to passengers. (I recently donated an original B&SR bicycle check tag to the archives.) It would be historically correct for the era we're portraying as well as great fun for our more athletically inclined visitors.
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John Kokas
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« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2017, 06:17:29 PM »

If we were ever able to get to Head Tide Station and Wiscasset, we would have the possibility of a flatcar for canoes and kayaks.
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Bill Baskerville
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« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2017, 08:37:00 PM »

When we get to 218, with a very little extra bit of work the ROW walking path could be upgraded to a bike path which would allow biking from Head Tide across the river and down to the village and beyond.  We could publish recommend biking trail maps.
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