USPS logo LINK — USPS employee news Printable

Mail methods

The list: 5 unique ways USPS has delivered

Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield, fourth from left, postal officials and U.S. Navy personnel watch the loading of “missile mail” into the Navy submarine USS Barbero.

The Postal Service always finds a way to deliver to its customers, no matter where they live. “The list” looks at five unique methods that have been used to deliver mail through history.

1. Stagecoaches. Delivery by horse and wagon began in the 1700s and continued into the early 1900s.

2. Balloons. The first official air mail delivery in the United States was by hot air balloon in 1859, when balloonist John Wise completed a 30-mile demonstration flight from Lafayette to Crawfordsville, IN.

3. Railway Post Offices. From the 1860s to the 1970s, postal clerks aboard trains sorted mail traveling between cities.

4. Dog sleds. During the winter months of the 1890s Alaskan gold rush, dog sleds had the difficult task of delivering mail to traveling miners. Dog sled delivery ended in 1963 as small aircraft could carry larger, heavier loads more quickly.

5. Guided missiles. Missile mailwas tested in 1959. Two mail containers replaced a nuclear warhead fired from a submarine to a Florida Naval station. The experimental delivery was intended partly to demonstrate the “great progress being made in guided missilery.”

Got ideas for future editions of “The list”? Email them to

Post-story highlights