, , , , , ,

Tooele County Airmail Arrows and Beacons

Western Air Express (which later became Western Airlines) delivered the first airmail on CAM #4 from LA to SLC on April 17, 1926. WAE carried its first passengers five weeks after, but priority was given to mail
cargo. The average mail load was 400 pounds and was carried in Douglas M-2 biplanes. The M-2 could carry 1,000 pounds of mail and two passengers.

Between 1926 to 1931 Boeing Air Transport had the contract for the SF-SL route, part of CAM #18. After 1931 Boeing Air Transport was renamed United Air Lines. CAM #18 used Boeing Model 40A biplanes. The Model 40A could carry two passengers and 1,200 pounds of mail.

The route was not lighted and mail could only be delivered by daylight until July 1, 1924 when the first nighttime airmail flights started. The lighted airway was completed in 1927. The airway contained lighted Airway Beacons. These beacons were spaced approximately 10 miles apart (closer in the mountains and farther away in the plains) and had 24 inch, million candle-power lights mounted on 51 foot towers. These towers were centered on an airmail arrow with a 10 x 14 ft engine generator shed oriented to the western/ southern beacon and an arrowhead oriented to the next eastern/northern beacon. The concrete arrow and shed were painted chrome-yellow (the shade of school buses).


  • 57 SF-SL LOW

The airmail initially went through Tooele County in September 1920 when the first transcontinental route went through Salt Lake and through to Reno. This was run by the Post Office Department in cooperation with the US Army. The first eight years of airmail delivery was operated by the US Government, probably using Curtiss “JN-4 “Jenny” biplanes and De Havill and DH-4s.”

The Kelly Act of 1925 “encouraged commercial aviation and authorized the Postmaster General to contract for Air Mail Service”. This resulted in Commercial Air Mail (CAM) service. These CAMS ran from 1925. While most of these beacons were discontinued during the Depression and the program defunded, various beacons operated in limited capabilities into the 1940s. At that time the Department of Commerce decommissioned and disassembled the towers for their steel. The last airway beacon was officially shut down in 1973, although there still are beacons operating in Western Montana.

The text above is from Sons of Utah Pioneers historic marker #243, see other markers in the series here:

This is located in a little roadside park at the corner of Connor Avenue and Silver Avenue in Stockton, Utah along with other historic markers. Those located here are: