The weird and wonderful world of postal services
The next time you moan about the late delivery of your electricity bill, spare some thought for your poor old post person. OK, your postie probably has only to make a short journey from a sorting office to your luxury pad but around the world it’s not always so simple, so we decided to take a look at the weird and the wonderful when it comes to postal services around the world.
United States of the Weird
Perhaps its no surprise that some of the most eye-watering facts come from the USA. Across it’s nearly 10m sq. km and a population of 318,000,000 it presents some of the biggest delivery challenges. The highest USA post office (in Alma, Colorado) is over 10,000 feet above sea level whilst the lowest is 282 feet below – that’s a Post Office in Death Valley which unsurprisingly is also the hottest and the driest on the continent.
Main Street, Island Park ID has the distinction of being the longest road in America, stretching out over 33 miles in total. But although Island Park may be the longest, it’s certainly not the most unusual; that honour belongs to Arizona where a mule train is responsible for travelling down to the depths of the Grand Canyon to visit the Havasupai Indians that dwell there. Each mule must carry an average total weight of 4000 lbs every day, trekking eight miles with 130 lbs strapped to its back made up from a combination of furniture, food, supplies and mail. Boats are another unusual yet popular way to deliver the mail, with the Magnolia River in Alabama and the Detroit River in Michigan both offering this facility. The latter is served by a 45 foot contract vessel, the JW Westcott, which takes mail to ships passing through. The JW Westcott is particularly unusual because it even has its own zip code, 48222. In Alabama, the contract mail boat is more modestly sized at just 15 foot, but still serves an impressive 31 mile stretch of river, delivering to a total of 176 mailboxes situated along the dockside.
In Alabama, dock to dock delivery is available along 31 miles of the Magnolia River, with 176 mailboxes dotted along the dockside throughout the stretch. A sturdy contract mail boat, 15 feet in length, fulfils the deliveries, visiting each mailbox individually.
And just in case you were thinking of it, posting children was banned in the USA in 1920. Apparently before that date, Americans often posted kids as it was the cheaper than any other transportation method.
The weird weird postal world
In 2001, the German Post office began training courses to teach dog psychology to postmen. No surprise really as figures showed that 3,000 postmen a year are bitten by dogs in Germany, leaving 2,255 pairs of torn trousers and £8million of medical bills.
There are over 363,663 million items sent by post annually – that’s one item per adult per week.
The ground floor of the Eiffel Tower is a post office and probably explains all those queues at this famous landmark – they’re not tourists but French pensioners! Other interesting locations for Post Offices include a 17th-century palace in Turkey, Port Lockrey in Antarctica and an underwater Post Office in Republic of Vanuatu.
In the UK a recent survey suggested the top 10 ‘weirdest’ things ever posted included a dead cat, a live hamster and a 500-strong army of Barbie dolls, but it sounds just like an average day at Baker Goodchild.