The Parcel Post Bank

Comment: Speaking of postal rates (previous post!):

The Parcel Post Bank


PARCEL POST BANK September, 1886, Samuel R. Bennion was sent here to establish a banking institution called the "Ashley Co-op." In 1903 the first pioneer bank was opened for business. In 1916 W.H. Colthorp erected this building with Salt Lake City brick. A full car load of brick was used, each wrapped seperately and sent Parcel Post U.S. Mail to Watson, Utah by train. From there they were hauled to Vernal by freight wagon and teams. It is known as "The Parcel Post Bank of the World," with N.J. Meagher, Sr. cashier. This bank has been a great factor in the development of Uintah Basin. UINTAH COUNTY LANDMARK REGISTER (3/23/1989) The Bank of Vernal was built with bricks shipped from Salt Lake City to Vernal in 1916. Bank officials wanted hard-fired bricks for their enduring building. Because Vernal was in Salt Lake City's second postal zone, mailed bricks cost half the amount of freighted bricks. Due to the distance, weight and difficulty of the flood of bricks mailed, postal regulations were changed across the country, and the Bank of Vernal became known as the "Parcel Post Bank." The Bank of Vernal is also on the Utah Register of Historic Places.

More: The Bank That Was Sent Through the Post Office


Mr. W. H. Coltharp, a young businessman in the town of Vernal, Utah, wanted to build a building and dedicate it to the memory of his father. After consulting with the directors of the local lending institution in the city, Coltharp proceeded with plans to build a building in which the front corner would be used as a new bank.

The bricks which Coltharp selected were made by the Salt Lake Pressed Brick Company, located about 120 miles away from Vernal, Utah by straight line, and even longer on the trails that weaved through Utah. Coltharp's problem was that the freight costs to haul 80,000 bricks from Salt Lake City to Vernal was prohibitive. The freight charges to ship the bricks to Vernal were about 4 times more expensive than what the bricks cost. In a stroke of creative genius, Coltharp decided he would have the bricks mailed to the small town, taking advantage of the cheap parcel post rates.

In order to meet the postal regulations of the day, Coltharp had the bricks carefully packaged in crates weighing less than 50 pounds, the upper limit of what the post office would permit. News accounts indicate that 40 or so crates were shipped each time, meaning that each attempted shipment was equivalent to one ton.

The trek from Salt Lake City had to take a very circuitous route in order to get to Vernal. First, the bricks were sent to Mack, Colorado, using the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. From there, they went to Watson, Colorado by way of a narrow gauge railroad. Finally the bricks were hauled the final 65 miles to Vernal by freight wagon. The total length of this route was over 400 miles.

As the post offices began to get overwhelmed by the cartons of bricks, the postmasters began to get frantic. Ultimately the entire quota of bricks were delivered, but the post office changed their regulations. The new rules stipulated that the sender and receiver could only ship or receive a total of 200 pounds of goods in a single day. In a clarification of the rule, the postal administration indicated that "it is not the intent of the United States Postal Service that buildings be shipped through the mail."

The Bank of Vernal was completed and was nicknamed "The Parcel Post Bank" by some of the town's residents. The building still exists and is still used as a bank; it now serves as a branch office of Zion's Bank and is located on West Main Street in the city of Vernal.


  1. I think you will find that William Siddoway had
    a great deal to do with the shipment of those bricks. Sylvia Gearheart, great step-niece

  2. Usually the courier delivery companies charge for a package according to its size and weight but if you are a business then they will offer you best rates as you will do regular business with them so it is a win-win situation for both. We too have got the medical courier deliveries at very reasonable rates for our business.


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