3 Interesting Things You Probably Didn’t Know (About The US Postal Service)
1. First Mail on the Moon
On June 20, 1969 US astronauts Neil Armstrong and Elwin “Buzz” Aldrin made history by becoming the first people to step on the moon. However, what most people do not know is that they made US Postal History as well when they sent the first piece of mail from the moon back to earth. It traveled a distance of over half a million miles, longer than any other piece of mail in history. A week before the scheduled lift-off, Postmaster General Winton Blount announced, “Apollo 11 will mark America’s first mail run to the Moon.” Artist Paul Calle designed a die for a postage stamp of how he envisioned the moon landing, and after the astronauts landed, they made on impression of this die to create the Moon’s first postage stamp. They also took an envelope with them, and cancelled it on the moon with the postmark “MOON LANDING USA” with the date of “JUL 20 1969”.
2. Missile Mail
In 1959, Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield joined forces with the US Defense Department in an effort to find new and creative ways to speed up mail delivery. On June 8, a guided missile (warhead removed, of course) was fired to a Navy station in Mayport, FL from the U.S.S. Barbero submarine. The successful launch took only 22 minutes for the 3,000 pieces of mail to travel the 100 miles, and Summerfield envisioned that one day, mail delivery would take only hours, instead of days or weeks. However, since this form of mail delivery was not only costly, but also inappropriate during the middle of the cold war, it would be the first and only official use of a missile for mail delivery.
3. The Pony Express
While most people know about the Pony Express, few realize that it was only in operation for a mere 18 months, from April 1860 to October 1861. The Pony Express was an independently contracted company that operated under the name Central Overland California and Pike’s Peak Express Company with the goal of providing a faster delivery time that the USPS through extreme and seemingly impossible weather and transportation conditions. By setting up 157 stations along the 2,000 mile route, the company was able to cut delivery times from 24 days to a mere 10 days! However, this would also prove to be the company’s downfall. Even though they charged as much as 50 times what the USPS charged, they were still unable to stay within budget. They officially ended service on October 26, 1861 when the transcontinental telegraph system was put into place.
Moon Mail – Shutterstock.com #2032778
Pony Express – Shutterstock.com #92011169