The Only City in the Country That Gets Its Mail By Boat

Neither rain, nor snow, nor the occasional alligator keeps Mark Lipscomb from completing his U.S. Postal Service rounds, but the the odd hurricane may delay delivery for a day or two. Lipscomb has been delivering mail to people who live along Week's Bay and the Magnolia and Fish rivers in Magnolia Springs, Alabama, for nine years. His mode of transportation isn't the usual, white U.S. Postal Service vehicle. It's a 15-foot-long Alumacraft boat with a semi-V hull. Lipscomb works the only year-round water delivery mail route in the country, a route that started in 1915. While budget troubles have forced the closure of several post offices the last couple of years, there are no plans to close this route, which serves about 180 homes along its 31-mile length. It takes Lipscomb about two hours each day to sort the mail at the Magnolia Springs post office and boating the route usually takes about four hours a day. The craft rarely comes to a complete stop and residents sometimes leave their mailboxes open for speedy insertion. Weather is the big concern, especially when thunderstorms blow up. Lipscomb, however, knows just how to handle them. "I just go into somebody's boathouse and take shelter until the storm blows over,” said Lipscomb. "My customers take very good care of me. If they are home, they ask me into their house to ride out any bad weather."