Saturday, 21 May 2011

10 Different Transports That Have Carried the Mail

Although we may refer to it as ‘snail mail’ when comparing it to electronic mail, standard mail delivery moves at lightning speed compared to the time it used to take to send a letter or package by the postal service in the past. The US Postal Service has used every means necessary to provide delivery of communications across this country since it began operations.

  1. Steamboats – In the 1800′s steamboats became the fastest mode of transportation on the water. Although mail had already been carried in boats and on rafts, steamboats provided a much faster delivery. Mail could be delivered between New York and California, via the Panama Canal in four weeks or less using steamboat delivery.
  2. Pony Express – Pony Express riders and their speedy horses are legendary for their part in mail delivery in the west. However, pack mules carried plenty of mail bags themselves, though not as quickly.
  3. Railroad – The railroad has played a large role in mail delivery throughout its history. In its early years of mail delivery, the postal service actually sorted mail in railroad cars while they were en route.
  4. Automobiles – Cars and trucks continue to delivery mail between cities and along rural routes. In the early years of automobiles, both electric and gasoline powered automobiles were used by mail carriers.
  5. Airplanes – Mail being transported through the air is common today, but in its beginnings it was considered quite unique, and certainly more expensive, to send a letter by Air Mail. The first regular pilots for mail delivery were Army pilots flying training missions.
  6. Motorcycles – The use of motorcycles for rural mail delivery is not as well-known as some of the other forms of transportation, but they formed an important part of the transportation system, particularly following World War I. Sidecars were often utilized to assist with larger loads.
  7. Pneumatic Tubes – You may be assuming that the use of pneumatic tubes for mail delivery was a Twentieth Century idea. It was not. Pneumatic tube delivery of mail began in the 1890′s in Philadelphia, New York and Chicago. The tubes ran underground from one mail station to another within the cities. Tube carriers looked vary similar to the cylindrical carriers used at your bank’s drive-up service. The cost of the service prevented it from continuing.
  8. Missiles – They tried it, but it didn’t work very well. In 1959 the use of guided missiles for mail delivery was experimented with. After a crash landing and an accounting of costs, the idea was discarded.
  9. Stagecoach – Not all of the mail in the west was carried by lone riders on horseback. The regular routes of stagecoaches made them a natural choice for mail delivery as well.
  10. People – The individual mail carrier has been a part of mail delivery longer than any other mode of transportation. Human feet are still the best delivery system to city homes.

Hopefully, you learned a few things about US Postal delivery systems that you did not know. Some of them were sure to have been new to you.
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