The Railway Post Office, or RPO, was literally a traveling post office. RPO cars were attached to regularly-scheduled passenger trains, and were operated under contract to the US Postal Service. Mail was picked up and dropped off at cities and towns along the route, and sorted while the train sped down the track. By the mid-1940’s, there were 1,500 RPO routes criss-crossing America with 30,000 men working in more than 4,000 RPO cars. More than 90% of the nation’s mail was handled in RPO cars.
This car was used to sort and distribute mail between Los Angeles and Kansas City on Santa Fe trains No's. 7 and 8, the "Fast Mail and Express”. An average crew numbered 12 men. The US Postal Service discontinued the route in 1967.
The inside of the car has been restored to look as it did in service, including letter cases, sorting racks and pouches of mail. The large hook next to the door on the side of the car is a catcher arm, and was used to grab pouches of mail off of a special platform (called a mail crane) at stations where the train was not scheduled to stop. Dropping off mail at these stations was accomplished by tossing mail bags out the side door as the train passed.
During the 1990s - 2000s, Car 60 underwent an extensive exterior restoration. Final exterior painting and lettering were completed for a Hollywood movie appearance in October 2007. Some additional work remains to be done on the car's doors, but this popular exhibit is now looking better than ever.