Passenger, Railway Mail
and Express Equipment
Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway No. 3401
Baggage-Railway Post Office Car built 1938
Santa Fe placed its order for baggage-RPO No. 3401 and sister car No. 3402 with the Budd Co. in August 1937, and the streamlined cars were delivered in April 1938. Originally assigned to the Kansas Cityan and Chicagoan, the 3401 eventually saw service on many ATSF trains, including the Chicago to Houston Texas Chief. The 3401 is one of the earliest streamlined RPO cars built for any railroad.
The 1960s saw the end of most railroads’ contracts with the U.S. Post Office for carriage of mail. As the mail moved to trucks and airplanes, many of the cars were scrapped. A number of Santa Fe cars were sold to the Penn Central, which continued RPO service on the Northeast Corridor’s shorter hauls for some years after the Post Office had quit using RPOs on most railroads. Fortunately for the museum, No. 3401 was not scrapped, and Santa Fe donated the car in 1968.
In 1988, Gulf Coast Chapter – NRHS marked No. 3401’s 50th birthday with a special celebration. The U.S. Postal Service was on hand in the car to cancel special covers commemorating No. 3401’s postal career.