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Train Stamps Pull Into Station

Some of AmericaÂ's greatest passenger trains steamed into postal stations Thursday: Five new stamps celebrating the heyday of passenger rail service were dedicated at a ceremony in Cleveland, at the annual convention of the American Philatelic Society.

Another ceremony for the new stamps was held at the same time at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Illinois.

The featured speaker at the Cleveland ceremony was Ray Bottles, the last brakeman of the New York CentralÂ's Twentieth Century Limited still working in railroading.

He told the standing room only audience that one of the new stamps shows the "new" Twentieth Century Limited, which went into service on June 15, 1938, pulled by a Hudson-type locomotive. The train ran 65 years, starting in 1902. Today, Amtrak runs the North Shore Limited along the same New York-to-Chicago route.

US Postal Service

APS president John Hotchner admitted passenger trains bring back memories of his childhood, and told of two of his favorite stamp collecting envelopes related to railway mail service.

One is marked, "Damaged when train ran over mail pouch." And the other, a Christmas card that wasnÂ't delivered on time, has a note that the mail pouch was thrown off the train too early and lost in a snow drift until the spring thaw.

The stamps "celebrate American genius and ingenuity," said Alexander Lazaroff, Cleveland district manager for customer service and sales of the U.S. Postal Service.

"ThereÂ's still the little boy in me that remembers the first time the Union Pacific went around my Christmas tree," said Norman E. Lorentz, the Postal ServiceÂ's chief technology officer, a native of Cleveland.

The "first day ceremony" was held as part of STAMPSHOW Â'99, the annual convention, show and meeting of the American Philatelic Society, the country's largest stamp collecting organization.

by producer Lloyd A. de Vries

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