Post Offices in national parks aren’t just for tourists sending postcards back home.
Park employees and residents also rely on the Postal Service to receive and deliver essential goods deep within the parks.
“[T]he parks and the mail are intertwined, sometimes in surprising and unusual ways,” Daniel Piazza, chief curator of philately at the National Postal Museum, told Smithsonian Newsdesk this month.
The Washington, DC, museum recently introduced an exhibit that explores this relationship.
Among the highlights: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where residents in the 1800s picked up their mail in Post Offices that also served as general stores and social gathering spots.
Visitors to Hawaii’s Kilauea National Park used sticks in the late 19th century to place postcards into the lava of the park’s active volcano to scorch them before mailing.
Hikers along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail pick up packages at Post Offices along the trail.
Grand Canyon National Park is home to the residents of Supai, AZ, who receive their mail via mule carriers.
The relationship between parks and the mail is also underscored through the National Parks stamps that USPS released this month.