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Special deliveries

The list: 5 more unique delivery methods

Bill Redding and Sam Buchanan, captain of the J.W. Westcott II, take the boat out for a mail delivery on the Detroit River last year. Image: Atlas Obscura

No matter where customers live, the Postal Service finds a way to deliver their mail. Here’s a look at five unique methods.

1. Mules. Five days a week, mules carry an average of 130 pounds of mail and supplies along an 8-mile route to the Havasupai people who live at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

2. Pail mail. Mail is delivered to passing ships traveling on the Detroit River by rope and pail from the J.W. Westcott II, a floating mail boat Post Office with its own ZIP Code — 48222.

3. Mail boats. Dock-to-dock delivery on Alabama’s Magnolia River is provided to dock-side mailboxes along a 31-mile stretch of water.

4. Snowmobiles. During the winter, snowmobiles can carry mail in Alaska, Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, Utah and Wisconsin when delivery by car becomes difficult.

5. Cable cars. Letter carriers in San Francisco sometimes catch rides on trolley cars that shuttle them up and down hills to their walking routes.

If you missed it last week, check out “5 unique ways USPS has delivered.” Got ideas for future editions of “The list”? Email them to

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