Parcel Post Bank
Vernal Zions Bank celebrates 100 years.
The Zions Bank building in Vernal, Utah, is well-known to many for its century-old bricks that still hold the structure together. As the story goes, each brick was individually packaged and shipped through the U.S. Postal Service. To commemorate the historical construction of the bank, Zions Bank employees hosted an open house celebration in May for local community members and business leaders representing the Uintah Basin.
A Brick of a Story
The story of the bricks has been featured in history books and by Ripley’s Believe It or Not! But it’s more than a cool story — the event motivated new regulations at the U.S. Postal Service.
It started in 1916 when business across the Uintah Basin was booming. Vernal was home to just one bank, run by William H. Coltharp and other community leaders. To keep up with the growth of the community, it needed a larger space. Coltharp took the lead in planning and organizing the construction of a new two-story building on 3 West Main St. in Vernal.
The new building would require more than 80,000 bricks to be shipped from Salt Lake City. At the time, wagon freighters demanded 15 cents per brick. Coltharp was determined to find a lower price, and he did. He discovered that Vernal was in a different postal code, and that each brick could be mailed via parcel post for 7 cents apiece — less than half what the freighters were offering.
The plan was set and each brick was sent on an arduous 400-mile wagon journey through central Utah, over to Mack, Colorado, and then back to Vernal. This longer route was difficult to take, but was the most efficient for wagons.
After the last packages left Salt Lake City, the postal service in Mack, Colorado, began questioning all the bricks going through its station. Personnel notified Washington, D.C., and regulations were quickly changed to prevent future senders from mailing more than 200 pounds of merchandise to one addressee in a single day without special permissions. But not before the final bricks were delivered to Vernal.
The Parcel Post Bank
Known historically as the Parcel Post Bank, the building was purchased in 1974 by Zions Bank and still stands strong 100 years later. It has provided thousands of families and businesses with opportunities to grow and succeed.
Some consider the building to be a true cornerstone to the Vernal community and its history, and others see it as a silent symbol of strength and stability that represents many communities across the Uintah Basin, which have survived both strong and weak economies during the last 100 years.
“I often think of the first families who lived in this region, what trials they may have had, but also all their successes in farming and business,” says Tim Negus, financial center manager. “I like to think about how this building was their place of trust; a place to keep their valuables, a place to come and discuss potential opportunities to borrow money to help support their families, farms and businesses. Watching this community grow and succeed inspires me every day. And it’s an honor to work in this historical building, which holds the same amount of trust as it did 100 years ago.”