In 1917, A Man Raised The Ire Of The U.S. Postal Service By Mailing?
Answer: 80,000 Bricks
In 1917, just a few years after the national Parcel Post Service was inaugurated in the United States, one clever man put the patience of the new service and its employees to the test. W. H. Coltharp was a businessman in Utah who wanted to build a new building (with a bank in the front corner) in memory of his father and to make it a stout and memorable building with lots and lots of bricks.
Unfortunately for Mr. Coltharp, the bricks he purchased were about 120 miles away from his build site and when he priced out the cost of having them freighted, via rail, to the town of Vernal, Utah where he wished to build the new building, the price was four times more than he paid for the bricks.
In a stroke of thrifty genius, Coltharp decided to take advantage of the postal service’s rather economical shipping rates by repackaging all the bricks (all 80,000 of them) in small crates weighing less than 50 pounds (the upper limit of post office packages) and paid the parcel post rate to ship them to the town.
The entire process was a logistical nightmare for the service that involved shipment via multiple railroads and a trip on a wagon. Day after day the post office dutifully transported crate after crate of bricks, often delivering a ton’s worth of building materials each day. After finally delivering the last of the crates a new regulation was put in place limiting how many pounds of goods a single customer could ship or receive in a given day with the postal administration issuing a statement on the matter that “it is not the intent of the United States Postal Service that buildings be shipped through the mail.”
The bank still stands today in Vernal, Utah and remains nicknamed by the locals “The Parcel Post Bank”.
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