“R.F.D in Carroll County”
Carroll County Times Article for 10 January 1999
1999 will mark the centennial of the inauguration of county-wide Rural Free Delivery service in the United States. The selection of Carroll County for the first service was due to the efforts of Edwin Wilmer Shriver of Westminster. Shriver had proposed plan for a county-wide delivery system that was accepted by the Post Office Department in 1898. A cornerstone of his plan was a postal wagon of his own design he called “The Post Office on Wheels”. The horse drawn vehicle was equipped with an open driver’s seat and a central work and storage area with counter, drawers and letter boxes for Shriver. Westminster carriage makers Herr Bros., completed the mail wagon in early 1899 and Shriver made his first run on Easter Monday 1899. The March 25th issue of the Democratic Advocate newspaper carried story about the upcoming event:
|“The Postoffice on Wheels, as shown in the accompanying cut, was conceived and designed by Mr. Edwin W. Shriver, of Westminster. The idea came to him last summer during some leisure moments, and he mentioned it to Mr. A. W. Machen, superintendent of the Free Delivery System of the Postoffice Department, whose summer home is in this city. Mr. Machen at once became interested in the plan and requested Mr. Shriver to work out details and submit his plans in writing to the department. Mr. Shriver did so, including a design of a mail wagon, map of proposed route and cost of operating route. The Department thought favorably of the scheme and decided to make a trial of the experiment. Mr. Shriver was directed to make out specifications for building a wagon and to obtain bids for its construction. Herr Bros., of Westminster, were the successful bidders, and an order for the wagon was given to them last December for its construction. Work was begun at once, under Mr. Shriver’s personal supervision, and the wagon is completed and ready for the road. It was ready, in reality, some weeks ago, but postal affairs in Cuba and Porto Rico engaged Mr. Machen’s attention and the wagon was not started. Postmaster Milton Schaeffer, of Westminster, took much interest in the new postal scheme, and has been aiding Mr. Shriver and the postoffice Department in arranging the route and getting matters in shape for a trial of the experiment. He and Mr. Shriver were both at the Postoffice Department on Wednesday.
Description of Wagon
The wagon is a handsome one. It is eight feet long, painted blue, with black trimmings. The running-gear is yellow, with red stripes. On the doors on each side, and on the back, are the words, in white letters, “U.S. Mail Postal Wagon.” The inside is fitted up with counter, drawers and letter boxes, of different sizes. In the back are sixteen boxes, mostly large, and in front are forty-two boxes, all zinc lined. The wagon is a credit to the builders. It was put up according to specifications, but both the designer and builders see that a lighter wagon would do. Experience, too, will probably suggest some changes that will make the wagons more convenient and less expensive.
*The cut of the wagon seems to have gone astray through transmission and was not received up to one hour of going to press. It should have been received on Thursday.”
|Although the illustration was lost, Shriver kept his way and completed his journey on Easter Monady. Next week’s column will a period description of his historic trip.|
|Photo caption:||Edwin W, Shriver’s Post Office on Wheels” was built by Herr Bros. (later Herr & Babylon), W. Main St., Westminster. J. Leland Jordan Collection, Historical Society of Carroll County.|