|Early U.S. American West Trail System Makes For
Interesting and Challenging Collecting!
Both in my line of work and through my hobby, I've had great opportunities to meet and
work with some pretty amazing people. Some are fellow members of the MPP club and,
better still, they also share even more interests in common with me than
simply collecting Mailer's Postmarks.
One such example is history of the American west.
A topic that can be pretty challenging when it comes to collecting postmarks from towns
that were founded decades ago. Towns which in some cases have disappeared over time yet
held great significance in American history. Towns for example, that helped form the
American West as we know it today, but that may now be known by different names or are not
located in quite the same geographic location as they once were.
Some of those 'amazing people' I mentioned, like me, find this aspect of collecting
postmarks very fun and exciting. But I will warn you now, it can be
NOT FOR CHICKENS
Spending hours pouring over old maps and more modern renditions. Scouring history
books to find out how and when (and sometimes why) a town name, or a landmark name has
changed, or where it actually was located in the first place. Then there are those
names that were used as nicknames by the early western explorers that may or may not have
been further identified or cross-referenced with present day monikers.
And, as it stand now, trying to put together a geographic collection with MPP cancels
alone is virtually impossible! But some Mailer's Postmarks can be had and they truly
are icing-on-the-cake when you find a willing MPP user that can add to your specific
To better define what I'm talking about, look at (and make a print of) the map from the
link below. Then find one of the early American trails or emigration routes such as
the Mormon Trail, if that one is of interest to you.
EARLY TRAILS & Emigration Routes
Then, correlate the old trail onto modern day maps (TIP: atlases work
well for laying out a basic large scale model to work from). Next, highlight or list the
towns that currently exist along the modern day replacements (roads and highways) of the
then footpaths and wagon trails of yesteryear.
It's much easier said than done!
And, if you research the old trail systems from history books, that's when you'll start
finding descrepancies that need to be sorted out. Or other things to drive you crazy, such
as towns that exist in the same proximity of these old trail systems today. But when in
fact they weren't even thought about until modern day civilization created them. A time
long after the actual history of a trail was set into the history books. Forcing
you to ask yourself the question: "Do I use this town and postmark, or not?"
Then, of course, start going after obtaining the postmarks that will comprise your
The good news about a collecting project like this is:
it is a project that can last for years. Not to mention all the good stuff
you're going to learn while you're at it.
Another plus... while certain topically related postage stamps may be difficult to
obtain for use on covers that you send away to receive postmarks on. There are other
philatelic alternatives (Cinderella stamps) that can also be used to make special,
decorative covers to spice up your collection. (Some examples will be found
elsewhere on this web site.) Not to mention that you can do whatever it is that pleases you.
Afterall, it's your collection. Make it something that satisfies
One gentleman that I know who may still be working on a Bozeman Trail collection,
simply uses postcards that he makes himself from white card stock, and doesn't care about
fancy postage stamps. Using nothing more that whatever is the current stamp that pays the
postcard rate. Quite similarly, he completed the Chisolm Trail in the same manner.
The postmarks bearing the historic town names along the trail were what mattered for
him. No frills, no thrills. But that's what collecting is all about. Doing
what makes you happy!
NO, I'M NOT KIDDING EITHER!
Just to show you that it really can be done, here's a set of album pages that I created
awhile back from one of these types of projects:
Carson's Old Spanish Trail Route
For the most part, I've got quite a little collection of excellent covers and
postmarks, with covers to adorn all the album pages shown in the set. When time allows, I
am still working on this collection. It's just as much fun today as when I
first started on it. I hope you'll give it a try for yourself as well. And I can tell you
that there is at least one Mailer's Postmark to be had for inclusion with
this Old Spanish Trail mini-collection.
And by all means, if you start collecting along one of the other trails from the big
"overview" map, please let me know about it. For then you will be one of those amazing
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