Capitol Conveyor

We all know there are government secrets out there. Some we may not want to know and some, like this one, are just fun and fascinating.

Before the Library of Congress was completed in 1897 books were housed in the Capitol building. Members of Congress were always needing source material for meetings and debates, so having the texts readily available was important. Housing the books in the Library of Congress , upon its completion, would mean that these texts were no longer at the fingertips of the Congressmen. They needed a way to allow members of Congress to access the texts quickly and efficiently.


The Miles Pneumatic Tube Company, based out of Boston, was contracted to build a conveyor system between the two buildings. It was a quarter mile long and ran beneath the ground in a water tight tunnel connected to the basements of both buildings. Books were placed in large trays that ran continuously and rather rapidly.   When the books reached the Capitol’s basement the conveyor then carried them up to a receiving room three stories above. Collecting the books was easier and more convenient using the conveyor system than it had been when the books were housed in the Capitol.


It was used for many years, but over time it was used less and less and the tunnel has since been sealed, yet the conveyor remains. A lost relic of American history.



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