Harley Gets the Mail Delivered On Time

1907 was the first year that Postmasters were officially authorized to allow their mail carriers to use motorcycles on their rural routes.  Previously, they would have delivered the mail on horseback or by horse drawn cart.  Many US motorcycle manufacturers were quick to respond to this change in mail delivery guidelines and soon the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association's magazine was filled with advertisements for motorcycles.  Harley-Davidson's approach was to advertise not only how good their machines were for delivering the mail, but also how much fun you could have on them when you were away from work.

Harley-Davidson also made a new vehicle called the motorcycle truck which was tested by the US Postal Service in Wisconsin during the winter of 1912-13.

Everything was going fine until 1915 when the Postmaster General decided to change regulations allowing for automobiles and banning motorcycles altogether by 1916.  This was repealed at the end of 1915 and motorcycles were allowed to remain in service as long as they had a waterproof commercial body to protect the mail.

After WWI, the US War Department transferred over 1,000 motorcycles to the US Postal Service.  Many of these found their way into cities as well as rural routes.

In the early 1920's following an armed robbery of a US Mail truck in New York, some motorcycles were assigned to escort duty in large cities to help protect shipments of valuable mail.  Notice the passenger in the following picture has a rifle or shotgun across his lap.

The US Postal Service continued to use motorcycles through the 1920's, but they eventually gave way to automobiles.  Although the US Postal Service no longer uses motorcycles in its operations, at least they still produce the occasional run of motorcycle themed stamps...  

Source:  United States Postal Service