As USPS prepares to upgrade its vehicle fleet, the National Postal Museum is recalling a time when mail was delivered on three wheels.
In a recent blog post, the museum highlights “mailsters” — three-wheeled lightweight trucks that letter carriers began using during the 1950s.
The vehicles helped the Post Office Department respond to rapid growth in suburban areas, historian Nancy Pope writes. By 1959, almost 5,000 routes were covered by mailsters, although the vehicles suffered several nagging defects.
“[They] could be immobilized by three inches of snow, tip over if driving around a corner more than 25 mph, caught in a wind gust or even by large dogs jumping on them,” Pope writes.
By the late 1960s, the department recognized the mailsters couldn’t be fixed with design improvements and began replacing the trucks with larger, more reliable vehicles.