Friday, November 26, 2021

The 2022 Calendar of Post Offices and Places

[Note: Direct purchase link: here. Use code: SAVE30 now until Nov. 30 for a hefty discount!]

Well! I cannot believe this year is almost over. Postally speaking it hasn't been incredibly productive, though I still have plenty of stories to share. It has been tough to feel motivated since I've been unable to travel and experience many places first-hand; BUT, I have gotten a couple of posts out lately and I do hope that productivity continues. And perhaps most importantly, of course, there's the sixth annual Postlandia Calendar of Post Offices and Places!

Every month of the calendar features a photo and caption of a photogenic and/or historically significant post office. The P.O.s featured come in all manner of shapes, sizes, and—I kid you not—colors. It can take quite a bit of research (particularly old newspaper articles) to get to the bottom of some of their stories!

This year's calendar [← direct link to order] takes us from Appalachia to the Pacific Northwest, New England, California, and many places in between. We've got a post office surrounded with wagon wheels; a pink castle; and one of my absolute favorite post offices, in Pennsylvania (see below). We also visit what's known as the smallest post office in America: Ochopee, Florida, and I'll show it to you in a way you probably haven't seen it before.

Writing this as I usually do right around/during Thanksgiving, please allow me to publicly appreciate everyone who supports this crazy little endeavor of mine by purchasing a calendar. It both motivates to keep going and literally helps me keep going in the form of gas money! I might drive 2,000 miles over the course of a week as I visit 150 post offices on the road. It adds up!

2022 Postlandia Calendar Cover: Greenville, PA post office


I first wrote about Greenville eleven years ago, but have revisited the post office both physically (for better photos) and in terms of research. I even mentioned it on NPR back in 2011 as perhaps my favorite post office of all! I absolutely love this building and I hope you will too. More 2022 calendar highlights include:

California: The Castle


South Carolina: Take it for Granite


New York: Something Blue


In addition to (U.S.) holiday designations the calendar features notes about interesting dates in U.S. postal history. I've gotten feedback from several people saying they find that detail really cool.

Everyone I know who's gotten the Postlandia calendar in the past has enjoyed it. It's a fantastic gift for philatelists, people who love exploring off the beaten path, and current or former U.S. Postal Service employees! I've been using the printer Lulu for a long time and they always churn out consistent, high-quality calendars. The paper is thick, the colors come out great, the images are nice and high-resolution (far higher than I post online), and it easily holds up to writing in pen or Sharpie.

(For the sake of reference, here are the links to 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 calendar write-ups.)

One fun thing I like to do, when sending out orders from family or friends, is wallpaper the heck out of the envelope with loads of cool old stamps. You can find a handful of examples here, here, and here (← definitely worth the look)!

Again, here is the link to ordering the calendar online. Thank you everybody for reading, liking posts, commenting, sharing, and for your support. Here's hoping to a happy and healthful 2022! —Evan

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Number of Post Offices by State (2021)

Which state has the most post offices, and how many post offices are there? In early 2017 Postlandia answered these questions, and now Postlandia shall do so again!

Here is a ranking of U.S. states and territories by the number of active U.S. Post Offices by state (and territory) as of October 2021. Facilities include all USPS retail facilities: independent post offices (including APOs, RMPOs, and PTPOs), classified [USPS-staffed] stations and branches, and the handful of Post Office Express locations. Excluded are carrier-only facilities, specialized mail processing facilities, Contract Postal Units (CPUs) and Community Post Offices (CPOs), and Village Post Offices (VPOs).

Postlandia obtained a complete list of active postal facilities via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The list included 30,986 entries total, 548 of which were identified either by USPS or the author as carrier-only facilities. In 2017 we identified 30,606 U.S. Post Offices; presently there are 30,438. This count is not definitive: there are liable to be modest discrepancies depending on, for example, how temporarily suspended operations are accounted for. In fact, several states registered (modest) increases in the number of post offices when it comes to these counts; however, no new post offices have opened in the U.S. several years.

Total: 30,438 post offices

Rank State
# P.O.s
1 NY New York 1820
2 PA Pennsylvania 1782
3 TX Texas 1650
4 CA California 1621
5 IL Illinois 1300
6 OH Ohio 1115
7 MO Missouri 890
8 MI Michigan 890
9 VA Virginia 880
10 IA Iowa 827
11 NC North Carolina 826
12 MN Minnesota 779
13 FL Florida 749
14 WI Wisconsin 741
15 IN Indiana 716
16 GA Georgia 705
17 NJ New Jersey 687
18 KY Kentucky 673
19 WV West Virginia 653
20 AR Arkansas 614
21 KS Kansas 584
22 AL Alabama 580
23 TN Tennessee 580
24 OK Oklahoma 579
25 MA Massachusetts 578
26 WA Washington 516
27 LA Louisiana 502
28 NE Nebraska 478
29 MD Maryland 450
30 CO Colorado 434
31 ME Maine 421
32 MS Mississippi 419
33 SC South Carolina 400
34 OR Oregon 361
35 MT Montana 314
36 NM New Mexico 312
37 SD South Dakota 312
38 CT Connecticut 301
39 ND North Dakota 292
40 AZ Arizona 266
41 VT Vermont 264
42 ID Idaho 234
43 NH New Hampshire 231
44 AK Alaska 205
45 UT Utah 196
46 WY Wyoming  140
47 NV Nevada 130
48 HI Hawaii 105
49 RI Rhode Island 79
50 DE Delaware 62

PR Puerto Rico 116

DC District of Columbia 50

VI Virgin Islands 12

GU Guam 6

FM Federated States
of Micronesia
4

MH Marshall Islands 3

MP Northern Mariana Islands 2

AS American Samoa 1

PW Palau 1

Hope you enjoyed, and check back soon for more entries. Thanks, everyone!

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Island Post Offices of Maine, Part IV: Monhegan

Hi, everyone! It's been a while. Life; motivation; etc., y'know? I have been feeling motivated to write a bit since I just took my first post office trip in a while. It was actually a pair of weeklong trips, in early October, through northern New England and Upstate New York, and during them I photographed 306 post offices both old and new. (Actually, just about 250 of them were new. The other images are generally greatly improved pictures of places I visited on the order of ten years ago.)

It was peak tourist season in northern New England for leaf peeper season, and so I bounced around a lot to track down decent rates for lodging. One unexpected detour took me to the coast of Maine, where I spent several afternoons taking ferries to visit post offices on more islands. This will be the fourth Postlandia post to feature post offices on the islands of Maine; the first three were published just about exactly ten years ago: November 2011. Here's a link to the first post!

The posts of ten years ago featured MacMahan, Squirrel, and Bustins Islands. This time we head further east along the Mid-Coast region, to several post offices accessible via ferry from the towns of Port Clyde, Rockland, and Lincolnville.

I'm not sure exactly how this post is going to play out at this time, but I think I'd like to get back to basics and share some fun findings from my experiences. Adventure time! Let's go.

Monhegan, Maine:

It's not often one takes the last boat out to Monhegan and returns the same afternoon, so I was asked if I'd meant to park in a short-term parking spot along the dock. Yep—I had! I'd be joining laundry and one of the employees at the Island Inn, as well as several visitors and residents, on the journey out, and once offboard I'd have about a half hour to find and photograph what I wanted, and return. This was indeed how I was spending the greater part of my afternoon (having driven the hour 45 minutes from Portland) and $38, I reassured them. The ferry departed Port Clyde at 3:00 and returned at 4:30.


View from the ferry, looking back toward Port Clyde.

Monhegan features a lighthouse, a museum, multiple lodgings, and art studios to explore for those not popping off the boat for a mere 20-minute jaunt. During that time, however, I was able to get nice photographs of the Monhegan post office and, on the 0.3-mile walk there encountered an intriguing little spot called "Elva's Old P.O."—something that definitely demanded a little visit.

But first, here are a couple of scenes from the island on my way to the post office:

Waiting at the dock on Monhegan; Island Inn in the background.


Painting the landscape; Monhegan.


The community "bulletin board."


Monhegan map: the dock, the post office, and Elva's Old P.O.

Elva's Old P.O.:

Elva's Old P.O., Monhegan, Maine


Elva's Old P.O., Monhegan, Maine

With a sign like:
POTTERY JEWELRY TOYS TEXTILES
doo-dads gew-gaws trinkets trifles
baubles bric-a-brac frippery frivolity
Coolest Stuff on a Half-tide Ledge!
How could you possibly resist?

The store was named after Mrs. Elva B. Moody, who served for decades as Monhegan's Postmaster. The store, indeed, served as the post office until the mid-1970s.

It is lovely inside, and the proprietor is very nice. Here's a scene from inside. Note the old post office sign on the wall!


Scene from Elva's Old P.O., with old post office sign

The book "The Fortunate Island of Monhegan: A Historical Monograph," by Charles Francis Jenney (1922) details the postal history of Monhegan:
Service was established in 1883 from Port Clyde to Monhegan on Tuesday and Saturday, the schedule providing that the carrier should leave Port Clyde at 1 p. m., arrive at Monhegan at 6 p. m., leave Monhegan at 7 a. m., and arrive at Port Clyde at 12 m. Effective on March 22, 1884, an order was issued that Port Clyde be omitted and the route begun at Boothbay, the carrier leaving Boothbay at 12:30 p. m., arriving at Monhegan at 6:30 p. m., leaving Monhegan at 6:30 a. m., and arriving at Boothbay at 11:30 a. m.

The route and schedule were reversed June 1, 1885, Monhegan being made the head of the route.

In 1889, upon the division of Boothbay, the terminus on the mainland became Boothbay Harbor. The schedule in effect for the contract term beginning July 1, 1889, was as follows: Monhegan to Boothbay Harbor, three times a week on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, from April 1 to November 30, and twice a week on Tuesday and Saturday, from December 1 to March 31 of each year. No change was made until June 1, 1902, when an order was issued increasing the service to six times a week, from June 1 to September 30 of each year and the winter service to three times a week.

Effective July 1, 1908, service was established between Thomaston and Monhegan, six times a week between June 1, and September 30, service being performed the remainder of the year from Monhegan to Boothbay Harbor, three times a week, by a schedule satisfactory to the department.

The postmasters at Monhegan, and the dates of their appointments are as follows: Lewis L. Lowell, March 27, 1882; Edmund P. Stevens, Mav 14, 1883; Mary Stevens, August 11, 1884; Daniel M. Davis, April 14, 1891; and Elva B. Moody, August 8, 1919.
Mail is still transported by ferry to this day. USPS's Postmaster Finder tool fills in the rest of the gaps in Monhegan's Postmaster history. It, combined with the information above, reveals that Elva served as Postmaster for more than 42 years.

Postmaster Finder: "Mrs. Elva B. Moody's name changed to Mrs. Elva B. Nicholson on December 18, 1923; to Miss Elva Brackett in April 1937; and back to Mrs. Elva B. Nicholson on March 31, 1958. Mrs. Winifred T. Burton assumed the position of Postmaster on Dec. 18, 1961."

Since then six people have held the title of Postmaster or Officer-in-Charge of Monhegan: Karen M. Wincapaw; Jean M. Schnell; Linda Wagner; Emily T. Carver; Brent A. Meservey; and (currently, since 2015) Carly E. (Mayhew) Feibusch.

I was told (alas, only once I was on the boat on my way back) that the P.O. then relocated to a white house behind the Island Inn, and that there had been an extension built onto the structure. I'm unable to identify the exact property at this time.

The post office today

According to a slightly old version of USPS's Leased Facilities Report*, the post office has been at its current site as of November 1987. A community association owns the property, and as of a few years ago the 526-square-foot space was being leased for $12,000 per year.

* The USPS Leased Facilities Report has stopped including original building / site occupation dates. Why? I have no damn clue. There was no reason to retract or remove the information from its databases. I presently use an archived (2015) version of the Report for such information.

The post office is located in what looked like a well-kept building with texturific New England-style siding. The P.O. features a worn, handmade sign and its hours are Monday through Friday: 8:00 am—1:00 pm, 1:30 pm—2:30 pm, and Saturday: 9:30 am—1:00 pm, meaning it would be closed (and, indeed, locked) when I stopped by. This just meant I'd have to mail out for a postmark at a later time!

The Monhegan post office::




Directly adjacent to the post office is the Black Duck Emporium, a pleasant-seeming gift shop and café that was closing for the day at about the time I arrived. There appeared to be living quarters above the store.

And with that, it's time to return to the mainland. For now I'll leave you with a photo from the Port Clyde—Monhegan ferry. See you next time!