With Lynchburg’s importance as a hub for rail and water transportation in the nineteenth century, the city became a key postal distribution service. Lynchburg’s constant need for more post office space impacted the architecture of downtown as we see it today.
The United States Post Office was created in 1775 and reorganized into the Post Office Department in 1792. For those who lived in Lynchburg, receiving mail and being patient went hand in hand. Around the turn of the 19th century, Lynchburg mail was shipped to Richmond, coming by sloop from northern cities, and then delivered once a week by horse to the small town.
Irregularities and failure of mail delivery were common complaints for many Americans, and Lynchburg residents were no exception. In 1820, The Lynchburg Press, having grown weary of customer complaints over not receiving their copies of the newspaper, ran an editorial concerning the matter. “As far as our duty extends, in issuing the paper in the proper time, and depositing it with the mails” the editorial defends, “we can answer for its discharge. It is to the carriers of the mail that the fault is attributable. …One of them was seen drunk in the streets on Friday morning…and was still in the vicinity in the evening, when he should have been a day’s journey on his route.”
As transportation options improved, the post office began using expanded means to deliver mail. In 1823 waterways were officially declared post roads, a move that benefitted Lynchburg with its location on the James River. Further improvements were made when Congress passed an 1838 act designating all railroads in the country as postal routes.