Saturday, July 30. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., visitors can make a tag for Owney, track Owney’s travels on a map, sort mail in the Railway Post Office, make a topical stamp collection, participate in a scavenger hunt and meet the author of a popular “Owney book”.
The new exhibit, “Owney: Mascot of the Railway Mail Service”, is opened now at the National Postal Museum and features this extraordinary dog and his story. The U.S. Postal Service has issued a commemorative postage stamp in the dog’s honor at an event in the museum’s atrium.
After “The Railway Mail Service” clerks adopted this scruffy mutt as their beloved mascot, they began to mark or track his never-ending travels by placing over 400 postal medals and tags from many of the hundreds of towns (stops) onto his collar.
During his lifetime, he was truly t”he nation’s most famous canine. By the early 1890s, Owney the traveling postal dog was featured frequently in the local newspapers in towns from sea to sea across the continental divide as he rode the rails as part of the Railway Mail Service.
The friendly mutt, known as Owney, was a favorite unofficial mascot and lucky charm of several different routes of clerks from across the country. Their main job was sorting the mail and swapping mailbags out and into the mail car from town to town; however, there were no train accidents on his watch during a period of too many accidents.
The famous postal dog, Owney, was traversing across the country on an unending train ride from 1888 until his death in 1897; however, the postal clerks, on the Railway Mail Service, refused to participate in the burial of their beloved mascot and old friend.
After his death, a group of clerks requested that Owney receive the honor of being preserved by a taxidermist, and then be presented to the U.S. Post Office Department’s headquarters; therefore, Owney was on display there for several years, and then donated to the Smithsonian Institution in 1911.
The museum’s preservation office recently provided Owney with a 21st-century “extreme makeover” befitting of a treasured Smithsonian artifact. Owney has been on display for most of the past 100 years, and 17 years at the National Postal Museum. He is truly an exceedingly old dog—and it showed.
National Postal Museumis located at 2 Massachusetts Avenue N.E., Washington, D.C., across from Union Station. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.