On the waterfront

Magnolia Springs, AL, Highway Contract Route Carrier Mark Lipscomb delivers mail to 180 homes by boat.

Mark Lipscomb has one of the Postal Service’s most unusual routes: He delivers mail to 180 homes along a 31-mile stretch — by boat.

Magnolia Springs, AL — where Lipscomb is a highway contract route carrier — is one of the few towns with year-round boat delivery. Residents have mailboxes at the end of their piers where Lipscomb has made daily deliveries for the past decade.

“It’s a very special job,” said Lipscomb, who was recently recognized with the Postal Service’s Eagle Spirit Award, which honors companies and individuals who transport mail under contract.

Lipscomb’s day begins at the Magnolia Springs Post Office, where he sorts mail for about two hours. He’s on the water about four hours a day.

It isn’t unusual for him to see alligators, snakes, bobcats and hawks — and occasionally, bald eagles — along his route.

Dodging the weather — especially quick-moving thunderstorms — presents challenges, but Lipscomb said his customers take “very good care” of him.

“If they are home, I’m invited to come inside and ride out any bad weather. When it’s hot, they’ll meet me on a pier with a glass of cold water.”