The first sizable wagon train (over 100 people) headed west out of Elm Grove, MO, under the direction of missionary Elijah White on this date in 1843. That’s right, kiddies! The Oregon Trail was REAL! It’s not just a computer game….wait, do the kiddies still play Oregon Trail? Despair, death, and fates worse than death all wrapped up in a nice little class-length package so school children can have a laugh for a change? Gosh, I sure hope so. And if they’re really lucky, maybe they get to visit the National Oregon/California Trail Center Museum in Montpelier, ID! This stamp enthusiast was not so lucky.
Issued on: February 12, 1993
From: Salem, OR; Missouri; Kansas; Nebraska; Wyoming; Idaho
Designed by: Jack Rosenthal
On May 11, 1863, the first International Postal Conference was held at the Hotel des Postes in Paris. Montgomery Blair (Postmaster General under President Lincoln) was the man behind the Conference, arguing that if the nations of the world would gather together to form a broad universal treaty regarding postal deliveries to and from foreign nations, then the world would be a better place—and right he was! The International Postal Conference was the precursor of the Universal Postal Union, and before all that each nation had to prepare a separate treaty with each other nation, leading to no small confusion and a mountain of paperwork. But just imagine—only 23 years after the world’s first postage stamp, only 16 years after the United States of America first started using pre-paid postage stamps, and here’s this Postmaster General dreaming of a world where communication among nations was not only possible, but affordable and [generally] reliable. Remarkable! Remarkable, I tell you!
Issued on: May 3, 1963
From: Silver Spring, MD
Today marks the 144th anniversary of the ceremonial golden spike being driven into the rail line of the transcontinental railroad at Promontory, UT, connecting the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railways. Would that the United States of America would focus a little more on rebuilding the railways and a little less on buying new cars.
Issued on: May 10, 1944
From: Omaha, NE; Ogden, UT; San Francisco, CA
In May 1950, a wildfire in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico destroyed some 17,000 acres in Lincoln National Forest. It also orphaned and injured a little bear cub, who ended up becoming the first living symbol of Smokey [the] Bear: on May 9, a group of soldiers from Fort Bliss, TX, who had come into New Mexico to help fight the fire found Smokey and rescued him. Originally called Hotfoot Teddy (poor wee bear), he later was called Smokey and moved to the National Zoo in DC, where he lived happily ever after until the end of his days. Just remember, kids: only YOU can help prevent forest fires.
Issued on: August 13, 1984
From: Capitan, NM
Designed by: Rudolph Wendelin