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Mail jumping

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Mail jumping is a type of mail delivery. The person doing the mail jumping (known as a mail jumper) is transported on a body of water by a boat. The person jumps off the boat onto a dock, places incoming mail in a mailbox, retrieves outgoing mail, and jumps back onto the boat.[1] The boat continues to move at a slow and steady pace (about 5 miles per hour (8 km/h)) while the mail jumper is jumping.[2]

Geneva Lake[edit]

Walworth II on Geneva Lake

The mail jumping delivery system has been employed on houses surrounding Geneva Lake in Walworth County, Wisconsin, United States, since before first roads were built around the lake in the late 19th century.[3] Decent roads were first built around the lake in the 1920s.[4] Some residents still use boats as their primary means of transportation to their summer homes on the lake.[4]

Six jumpers are hired annually to deliver mail on behalf of the United States Postal Service each summer from June 15 until September 15.[5] Only male jumpers were used until the first woman was hired in 1974. Since then, they have been mostly women.[2] Jumpers began daily at 7 a.m. by sorting mail. Delivery begins at 10 a.m. aboard the U.S. Mailboat Walworth II.[3] Mail is delivered to approximately 60 houses. Delivery is completed by around 1 p.m.[3] A typical jumper misses the jump returning to the boat at least once in their career and works the rest of the day wet.[3]

The Lake Geneva Cruise Lines has operated the boat since 1916.[6] It takes approximately 160 tourists along. Most mail runs are at full capacity.[6] Jumpers are expected to be able to speak as tour guides as the tour passes historic summer houses and Yerkes Observatory.[3] The jumpers are privately hired by the cruise line and they work closely with the U.S. Postal Service.[3] The Walworth II is the only mail jumping boat in the United States.[1] Mail has been delivered this way since 1873.[7] A local resident said "There was a time during the war when everyone really counted on the mailboat. We didn't have TV and computers and all of that, so everyone would gather to meet the mailboat."[4]

References in popular culture[edit]

The Travel Channel host Andrew Zimmern taped an episode of his show Bizarre World in which he worked as a mail jumper.[1]

National Public Radio member station WUWM made an episode on mail jumping on August 6, 2014.[8]

YouTuber Tom Scott tried mail jumping on August 16, 2022.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Seiser, Lisa. "Travel Channel's 'bizarre' host coming to Lake Geneva". Lake Geneva News. Archived from the original on 13 April 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
  2. ^ a b West, Dennis (August 14, 1994). "Mail Jumpin'". Milwaukee Sentinel. Retrieved 13 June 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Hammel, Katie. "The mail jumpers of Lake Geneva". Gadling. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
  4. ^ a b c Brian, Dakss (June 26, 2005). "Special Deliveries". CBS News Sunday Morning. Retrieved 13 June 2010.
  5. ^ "Annual "Mail Jumper" tryouts held in Wisconsin". Comcast Sports Network, San Francisco area.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ a b Jacquest, Samantha (June 23, 2013). "Challenges often await mail-jumpers". Janesville Gazette.
  7. ^ Alden, Sharyn (August 3, 2008). "Letters, Leaps and Bounds on Lake Geneva". The Washington Post. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
  8. ^ Henzl, Ann-Elise (4 Aug 2014). "NPR Takes a Ride with Lake Geneva's Mail Jumpers". National Public Radio. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  9. ^ "Delivering mail by jumping from a moving boat". 16 Aug 2022. Retrieved 16 Aug 2022.