The larger mailboxes being tested in states like Colorado and North Dakota may seem a little unusual, but rural boxes have been evolving from the beginning.
When the Post Office Department started Rural Free Delivery in 1902, customers were forced to make their own mailboxes using materials they found around their homes and farms.
Rural carriers delivered to a variety of homemade, not-always-functional mailboxes. Old coal, syrup and food containers were commonly used as mailboxes mounted onto poles along the roadside.
Later that year, the Post Office Department issued regulations for mailboxes. One rule required mailboxes to be mounted “buggy high” for carriers, a tradition that continues today.
By 1903, 46 companies were manufacturing rural delivery mailboxes. The boxes that passed scrutiny were marked “Approved by the Postmaster General” — another tradition that endures.