Mystery Photo #66: U.S. Mail boat near Duluth, Minnesota

This undated postcard photo depicts a U.S. Mail boat at a nondescript location. The only clue that it might be on the St. Louis River or some other body of water in the vicinity of Duluth is a penciled note on the back of the card.

Who knows more about this letter-carrying vessel?


Paul Lundgren

about 6 years ago

Shelley Svatos asked via Facebook: "Is it the mail boat on Lake Vermilion?"

I don't know, but it does raise the question of how broadly "near Duluth" could be interpreted. 

And I guess I'd take back my uneducated guess of the St. Louis River. Why would there be a mail boat there? The postal service was surely delivering to homes along the St. Louis River by land at that time, right? 

And why are there so many people on a mail boat? It must be delivering mail to islands on a lake and transporting passengers, right?

Gina Temple-Rhodes

about 6 years ago

I am skeptical that it was any sort of official mail boat. This was a pretty typical "gasoline launch" sort of recreational boat, but maybe it did carry some mail as well as tourist or "holiday-makers." 

Here's something similar from Minneapolis.

I've always thought the language usage of calling a boat a "launch" is interesting (and long gone?). But here's something that could have been used on a launch in those days, if you had the money:

Gina Temple-Rhodes

about 6 years ago

That Portaphone was for sale at Glass Block in Duluth in June of 1920. $40 in 1920 is the equivalent to maybe $520 today. The cost of an iphone?


about 6 years ago

Aronson's Boat Works is on Lake Vermilion, where my mother grew up. A little digging shows an old photo from Aronson's with two boats that look very much like this one. And Aronson's has the U.S. Postal Service delivery concession on Lake Vermilion today and for decades past. 

Mike Creger

about 6 years ago

It's always about the stamp box, which dates this postcard 1904-1918. FWIT

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