News & Events for Chesapeake Bay

J.W. Westcott is the only boat with a U.S. ZIP code, serving freighters on the Great Lakes

Date Posted: 2019-01-08

DETROIT, Michigan – The J.W. Westcott is the only boat with its own ZIP code.

The 45-foot steel boat works 24 hours a day, delivering mail, packages and sometimes pizza to the giant lakers that chug daily through the Detroit River, headed anywhere on the Great Lakes.

“Oh Lord, it’s crazy this time of year,” said the general manager, Captain Sam Buchanan. “We deliver Amazon. We’re delivering all kinds of stuff to every ship that goes by our station, pretty much.”

The Westcott has been an official marine U.S. Post Office since 1895. The company was founded in 1874, when it used a rowboat to deliver messages to passing ships through its “mail-in-the-pail” technique.

144 years later, the boat is still delivering mail in the pail. Of course, there are a lot fewer letters than there once was. There are a lot more packages, instead.

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