I have been in the printing/mailing industry for over 22 years specializing in direct mail, and I am still amazed with the fact it costs only 47 cents to mail a letter. When I started in 1994, a stamp was just 29 cents. Obviously, postage has gone up a bit over the years, but the impressive feats the US Postal Service can accomplish at such a price is amazing. Here are some interesting facts about the USPS you may not have known.
A letter (up to 1 ounce) can be mailed from the western most post office to the eastern most post office for a mere 47 cents. This means a letter mailed out of Hagatna, Guam addressed to Christiansted, Virgin Islands will travel a distance of 9,500 miles. Mailing within U.S. territories uses the same postage rate as within the 50 States.
In addition to the great distance letters can travel, it can be delivered in a variety of ways for that same 47 cents. In Peach Springs AZ, a mule train delivers mail and supplies to the Havasupai Indians at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Each mule will be loaded down with 130 pounds of mail and supplies for the 8 mile trek, delivering an average of 4,000 pounds per day of mail and supplies 6 days a week.
Another unusual way that mail is delivered is by boat. A 15-foot boat delivers mail to 176 dock-side mailboxes along the Magnolia River in Alabama. The J.W. Westcott, out of Detroit, is a 45-foot boat that delivers mail to passing ships and even has its own zip code.
Your letter with a 47-cent stamp moves through the mail stream in a variety of ways to reach the homes and businesses in 42,000 zip codes. These methods include planes, trains, automobiles, trucks, boats, ferries, helicopters, subways, float planes, hovercraft, mules, bicycles, and by foot. Keeping all these delivery vehicles running takes a lot of maintenance as well. For example, did you know that more than 652,000 tires were used on the postal fleet of vehicles in 2015? That’s enough tires to span 144 miles if laid end to end.
Carrier routes all very greatly as well. The longest rural carrier route is in Mangum, OK. The carrier travels a distance of 187.6 miles a day and delivers to 240 boxes. The driver racks up 1,125.6 miles a week. The shortest rural carrier route in Carrollton, TX is just 1.2 miles and the driver delivers to 312 boxes.
On a closing note, consider this: If you’ve ever looked for a rubber band and couldn’t find one, check with the USPS. They ordered 888 million rubber bands in 2015!