Is Parcel Post an Effective Way to Transport Building Supplies?

Back in 1916, businessman W.H. Coltharp wanted his new bank in Vernal, Utah, to have a beautiful brick exterior, and he was particularly fond of the durable fired bricks made in Salt Lake City. Shipping the bricks by rail was too costly, so Coltharp decided to take advantage of the US Postal Service’s new Parcel Post rates. The 15,000 bricks (some sources say it was 80,000 bricks) were individually wrapped in paper and packed 10 to a wooden crate to meet the 50-pound (22.7-kg) weight limit. It cost just 54 cents to mail each of the crates.

Shipping bricks by mail:

  • As the crow flies, Vernal is only about 125 miles (201 km) from Salt Lake City, which put it in the second delivery zone for Parcel Post, but the actual route was nearly 400 miles (644 km) long. The USPS lost 21 cents on each package.

  • About 37 tons of bricks were shipped to Vernal, and the bank was completed in November 1916. Nicknamed the "parcel post bank," the Bank of Vernal is now a branch of Zions Bank.

  • The Bank of Vernal's brick exterior notwithstanding, Parcel Post was an instant success for the United States Postal Service, with 300 million packages mailed in the first six months of 1913.

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More Info: United States Postal Service

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