Culture

Mailboxes Designed to Beat the Plow

Aroostook County mailboxes

Mailboxes Designed to Beat the Plow

Aroostook County mailboxes
TEXT BY VIRGINIA M. WRIGHT
PHOTOGRAPHED BY TRISTAN SPINSKI & MICHAEL D. WILSON

Aroostook County’s big snows inspire some wacky inventions.

With an average 94 inches of snow per year, Aroostook County should be a graveyard for mailboxes taken down by plows. Instead, it’s fertile ground for simple yet ingenious devices constructed to foil a fast-moving blade.

The most common are souped-up variations of the cantilever post. The mount — an extra-tall wood or metal post or, occasionally, something more formidable, like an old oil tank — is set well back from the road. From it, a long metal arm extends the mailbox over snowbanks. The arm may be weighted on the opposite end to lift the box all the higher; a pull cord allows the mail carrier to lower the box. Others are designed like Confucius’s green reed — they swing, rather than break, with the passing plow.

My favorites are the portable mailbox mounts, which homeowners carry, push, or roll away from the roadside in advance of a storm. Judging from my travels in the County, the device of choice appears to be a post mounted to a tire rim: Just tip and roll it out of the plow’s path. A close second in ubiquity are the lawnmower mounts that are easily wheeled to safety. Some mailboxes are fixed to wooden horses — stable enough to withstand most winds, yet light enough to lift and move. There are even mailbox sleds, usually a heavy planter box mounted on skis and outfitted with a pull rope.

Sometimes, though, even the most inventive Aroostookians can’t beat the plow. When that happens, they tunnel their dismounted box into a snowbank so only the door is exposed, pack snow around it like mortar, and figure out what to replace it with come spring.


One Comment

  1. Jeff

    Check out the Instagram called mailboxdefense for some more ingenious approaches

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