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Postmark fetes Barefoot Mailman Hike

A statue in Hillsboro Beach, FL, memorializes James Hamilton, the third and most famous of the Barefoot Mailmen.

Neither rain nor wind nor gloom of night could stay roughly 200 Boy Scouts, their leaders and others from their annual Barefoot Mailman Hike in South Florida.

As fate would have it, rain, wind and gloom of night were part of the equation this year, but the scouts soldiered on.

The February hike is a 35-mile, two-day event that pays homage to Florida’s “barefoot mailmen” of the 19th century.

These intrepid souls (there were roughly 15) handled the first U.S. Mail route between Palm Beach and Miami — then a roadless expanse — from 1885 to 1892. Carriers had to deliver barefoot on the beach, using rowboats to cross the inlets that connected the various locales.

A round trip was 136 miles — 56 by boat, 80 by foot — and took six days.

The journey was rife with perils. James Hamilton, the third and most famous of the barefoot brigade, disappeared from the route in 1887.

This year’s hike began in Pompano Beach, with scouts carrying actual letters. These were stamped with a special pictorial postmark at the end of the hike in Miami’s South Beach.

The postmark is available through April 5.

To obtain one, address a card or letter to yourself or another recipient, affix a stamp and place it in a larger envelope. Affix the appropriate postage to the larger envelope and address that to: Barefoot Mailman Station, Postmaster, 2200 NW 72nd Ave., Suite 514, Miami, FL, 33152-9998.