Neither snow nor rain nor too-hot sand
March 14, 2007 11:40 AM   Subscribe

Florida's Barefoot Mailmen traveled 68-mile routes between Palm Beach and Miami in the late 1800s. Walking 40 miles (barefoot) and rowing 28 miles over the course of three days each way, these letter carriers brought efficiency to a postal route that previously required that "a letter from Palm Beach to Miami begin its trip at the lighthouse community of Jupiter, 22 miles north, then by an Indian River steamboat to the rail head at Titusville. By train it continued to New York's port and from there by steamer to Havana. From Cuba, a trading schooner took the letter to Miami. It took a voyage of 3,000 miles and a period of six weeks to two months for a letter to arrive in Miami." Ed Hamilton, who disappeared in the course of duty (and whose mysterious death may have been engineered by moving his rowboat out of reach in alligator-infested waters), is honored with a bronze statue in Hillsboro Beach.
posted by occhiblu (6 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Wasn't it more Fort Dallas to Palm Beach? Miami not being incorporated until 1896 and all.
posted by Megafly at 11:56 AM on March 14, 2007

Interesting article, but it doesn't answer the question as to why these brave young men didn't have boots.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:41 PM on March 14, 2007

FoB -- their feet would rot. No kidding.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:53 PM on March 14, 2007

Having walked on sand with a wide variety of shoes, and having done so barefoot, I've definitely found that walking barefoot was more efficient -- easier to balance and get traction. I just assumed that was the reason.
posted by occhiblu at 1:00 PM on March 14, 2007

Hillsboro Inlet gmap

Miami not being incorporated until 1896 and all.

Post offices have no relationship to incorporation. They're established by the federal government, not local authorities. There are today thousands of rural post offices in unincorporated areas.
posted by dhartung at 2:13 PM on March 14, 2007

I left the frozen northlands and arrived in the Palm Beach area about two weeks ago, and was headed for the library when my mother-in-law said, "Why don't you get the book about the barefoot mailman?"

"Who?" I said. "Never heard of him." Turns out they don't have any copies at the Lake Worth branch library, but this is the book, if anyone's interested. (Looks like there's also a novel.)

p.s. I think the mailmen were barefoot because it's d----d hot down here.
posted by LeLiLo at 3:00 PM on March 14, 2007

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