Today we're going to look at a few items of interest that combine the
Disneyland Railroad with the Post Office. Yeah, I know...seems an unusual pairing. And I wouldn't have thought of it
myself if it weren't for the item we'll look at last--a simple unused envelope.
But after I examined it, I started thinking...
Ever since the very idea of Disneyland began jelling in Walt Disney's mind,
it seems that postal issues didn't lurk very far away. In fact, in the very
first memo describing Disneyland in detail that Walt ever wrote, the Post Office
made an appearance. In an internal memo prepared by Walt dated August 31, 1948,
he wrote this: "In the Town Hall we will have a real Post Office where mail and packages can
be mailed. (Note: Check with Burbank on how to go about getting our own postal
Now, as everyone knows, the Park he ended up building wasn't situated in
Burbank, but Walt did, in fact, fulfill the second portion of his idea written
above: For many years, mail deposited in any of the several mail boxes located
throughout Disneyland would have their postage cancelled with an official
Disneyland cancellation stamp! (This practice has since ended, and all mail
posted at Disneyland is now cancelled with the Anaheim stamp).
Mail deposited into these mailboxes at one time received a
Disneyland cancellation stamp. Photo courtesy Matt Walker
Perhaps Walt's thoughts of the Post office were somehow tied in with his love
of railroading. Walt had become a news butcher on the Missouri Pacific Railroad
in the Midwest when he was just 15 years old, selling soda, candy and newspapers
to passengers on the commuter trains of the railroad. The baggage car was always
stationed as the first car right behind the locomotive. Here, parcels, packages
and the U.S. Mail would be carried, to be delivered to the stops along the
Often, the car was a "combine," which was a car with half coach seats for
passengers, and half baggage compartment. When Walt wasn't selling sundries to
the passengers, he would spend his time in this car. The car also gave him
fairly easy access to the locomotive, since it was coupled directly to it. Walt
would often venture out the front door of the baggage car, climb the ladder of
the tender on the speeding train, and make his way over the coal pile in the
tender before descending into the locomotive cab. Here, he would bribe the
engine crews with fruit and snacks in exchange for them showing him how the
various engine controls worked.
The times Walt spent as a news butcher were some of the most enjoyable of his
life. And this is why Walt's favorite car on the early Santa Fe & Disneyland
Railroad was the combine car--a car which also would have carried the mails
during the great age of steam it was meant to portray.
The "combine" is the first yellow car behind the engine--a
combination baggage and passenger car. It's partially lettered as a "U.S.
Railway Post Office." This was Walt Disney's favorite passenger car.
While Walt Disney had made sure that his Park provided its own cancellation
stamp, it's interesting to note that years later, the tiny country on the West
African coast called Angola would honor the Disneyland Railroad with their own
While undated, these stamps were issued sometime in the late 1990s, and bear
testament to the wide-ranging influence of Walt and his trains. Those of you who
own Michael Broggie's expansive biography of Walt Disney may recognize the
images: They have all been lifted from Walt Disney's Railroad Story.
The government of Angola wasn't too concerned with intellectual
property rights when it lifted every single image here from Walt Disney's
Railroad Story, unbeknownst to author Michael Broggie!
The upper left and lower right corners are the book's sidebar graphics; the
four images on the sides are the back cover (even reproducing the name of the
book!); the upper right and lower left corners show a pass signed by Walt Disney
that appears in the book, and the top and bottom images are "stretched" portions
of an attraction poster. The four stamps themselves in the middle are all images
lifted directly from the book.
While we may complain about our 42-cent stamp
prices, perhaps we should be grateful: An on-line currency converter shows that
the stamp's value, Kzr 500,000.00--converts to about $6,651 in today's dollars.
One final bit of Disneyland Railroad/postal paraphernalia: This is an unused
envelope I recently spotted on Ebay.
This unused envelope was an interesting--if mysterious--find
commemorating the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad.
As can be plainly seen, the envelope was issued in conjunction with the
Oregon Centennial Exposition in Portland, Oregon. It is imprinted by the
"National Railroad Hall of Fame and Museum, C.J. Keenan, founder." The 3-cent
stamp it bears commemorates Casey Jones, a famous engineer in American song and
folklore. Obviously, it's un-addressed, but the stamp has been cancelled at the
Centennial branch of the Portland post office.
Of course, the interesting aspect for me is that on August 24, 1959, the
National Railroad Hall of Fame and Museum "saluted" the Santa Fe & Disneyland
Railroad! Internet research turns up precious little on the National Railroad
Hall of Fame and Museum in Oregon; it is apparently defunct. Obviously, a
different railroad was saluted daily; several other of these envelopes have
appeared on Ebay, and at least one other one saluting the Santa Fe & Disneyland
Railroad on August 24th.
Anyway, the above envelope and the stamps just goes to show you that
Disneyland wasn't the only place to get Disneyland Railroad souvenirs. Sometimes
they turn up in the darndest places. Please consider this article signed, sealed,
delivered and yours!