The tunnel-shaped mailbox is a familiar sight on America's rural roads. The basic design of this mailbox, first built in the early 1900s, remains much the same today. Equipped with a door that opens in the front, large enough for letters and small packages, the box has a signal flag attached to the side, which is raised to indicate to patrons and carriers when mail is in the box.
But sometimes a box is not just a box. Within the framework of postal requirements, rural Americans use their mailboxes to express their individuality.
In 1992 and again in 1993, the National Postal Museum asked rural carriers to be on the lookout for intriguing and especially creative rural mailboxes. Here are some of the mailboxes they found.
"Three years ago, I bought a book on how to carve a carousel horse... I was intrigued with the idea that a hollow horse could be functional as well as beautiful. While that thought was fresh in my mind, I noticed an Arabian at a nearby stable... Four months later Let's Dance was born."
This bear is located at a business that does chain saw carvings and sculptures.
"The wood trap holds a large size mailbox and the red claw takes the place of the signal flag. On the end of trap two wood fish made of mahogany. Red, white and blue buoy holds a wooden dory with traps and fisherman rowing. . . . White anchors on blue post hold the trap. Fourteen small painted wood fish move with prevailing winds."
"My husband . . . seems to always have a project in the works. . . this winter his 'Mr. Peace to the World and Thumbs Up' mailbox was born. Out of scrap pieces of tubing and a discarded mailbox arose our blue-eyed, balding, front yard friend. He has certainly slowed traffic if not stopped it on several occasions since he took his place early this spring."
"The arm holding the mailbox has a set of mule shoes depicting the 'M' for Merters or the shape of mule ears."
"Replica of a McCormick Deering W 30 tractor from the 1930 era. I am restoring a real one at my home."