Parcel Post Bank



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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This is Fred Ball for Zion bank, speaking on business.

Have you ever heard of the Parcel Post Bank? It's a great story.

On September 24, 1886, Samuel Roberts Bennion was sent to Vernal to provide a means of money exchange for the pioneers of Ashley Valley. At that time the nearest bank was 120 miles away.

The Ashley Co-op was established on Main Street. This was during the heyday of Butch Cassidy and his "wild bunch." The robbers saw the co-op as a perfect bust because they knew it was only a day's ride from their favorite hideout in Brown's Hole. They would laugh and joke and look at the little bank with avarice. Vernal folks worried about the vulnerable state of the bank, but it was 1916 before anyone did anything about it.

W. H. Coltharp, a prominent young businessman, went to the bank directors and told them he wanted to build a memorial to his father. He offered to build a two-story brick building, letting the front corner be used for a new bank. The construction needed 80,000 bricks, but the nearest brick kiln was 135 miles away. Freighters demanded 15 cents a brick.

Well, the price was steep. But that didn't stop Coltharp. He soon discovered that he could still have his bricks delivered for a lot less money. Vernal, being less than 150 air miles between two points, took second zone postage. Actually, the mail traveled 407 miles by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad to Mack, Colo. Then it was on to Watson, Colo. by narrow gauge and finally to Vernal in a Star Route freight wagon. As postal regulations limited the weight of a package to 50 pounds, Coltharp carefully figured 10 bricks to a package and ordered 8,000 packages.

You might say the action hit the post office like a ton of bricks. Washington first heard of it when the Star Route carrier reported that he had mounds of undelivered parcel post for the bank in Vernal. So, the Star Route added extra wagons and the mail was delivered - every last brick of it.

Uncle Sam quickly changed the regulations, but Coltharp got his bricks delivered by parcel post for less than half of what the freighters would have charged. And the city of Vernal got its new brick building and bank. Incidentally, that building now houses my favorite bank. You guessed it! Zions Bank.

For Zions Bank, I'm Fred Ball. I'm speaking on business.

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