Post Offices and Postal Service Cumberland County, PA
It started out simple – my plan to compile an all-time list of post offices that existed in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. My only goal was a list, compiled from note I had accumulated during other research projects. But it quickly became obvious I needed to add the date the post office began operation, and in some cases, the date the post office closed. And it also became a bit of challenge to locate some of them. As I worked to solve those sometimes-challenging questions the stories of rural Free Delivery and Home Delivery emerged. Seems the story of mail delivery n Cumberland County was not so straight forward as I at first thought.
In addition, it became obvious that I at least needed to touch on how the mails were distributed to the various post offices. At first it was by stage and horse, later by train, and then motor trucks. So those things also needed to be described, however briefly. The Highway Post Office, which replaced the Railway Post Office service in the county, is unknown to most and it too had to be covered. And even more obscure is the air mail service provided to Carlisle and Shippensburg between 1941 and 1949 – so that too is covered. So, what initially seemed a rather simple task expanded into the final work you see here.
Today the processing and sorting of mail is nearly automatic. The Zip Code, implemented in 1963, was an advance in machine sorting started in the 1950s. Today bar-coding speeds sorting and handling even further. In the past mail was sorted by hand, placed into pouches destined for specified points, and unpacked and resorted as it got closer to the final destination. Today scanners and computers guide each piece of mail through the process. In speaking to our local mail carrier much of his mail is sorted by machine and is given to him in flats – no longer does the mail carrier stand in front of a rack and hand sort his route before starting out for the day. And when he delivers a package, he scans the label; in a few seconds the data is uploaded and within a few minutes the receiver gets an e-mail saying the packages has been delivered.
by Randy Watts, 2022
ISBN 418740009524 $19.95 81 pages, index and endnotes. Spiral Bound