Starting in the 1870's, a succession of eleven mailmen WALKED sections of a route from Jupiter (Palm Beach County) to Miami (Dade County) to deliver mail along the east coast. Each section of the journey took three days. There was no trail...just beach. They stayed overnight at Houses of Refuge for ship-wrecked sailors in Delray Beach and Ft. Lauderdale.
The saltwater destroyed their shoes, so they walked barefoot in the packed sand with pants rolled up to their knees. They battled mosquitos thick as storm clouds, long-snouted razorback hogs, horse flies, and vipers in palmetto roots.
It was a letter's speedier route than the three-to-six-month alternative out of south Florida. Mail originally went north to Titusville (Kennedy Space Center), where the railroad ended at its southernmost point. The mail would go all the way to New York by rail, then ride a steamer or schooner to Havana. Next stop was Key West, then Miami.
Near the lighthouse at Hillsboro (Fla.) Inlet stands a statue of Barefoot Mailman Ed Hamilton. One story goes that a 'gator caused the mailman's death in 1887, while on duty crossing the mouth of that dangerous Inlet.
Imagine the want ad: mailman needed with feet like leather, immunity to insect bites, no fear of 'gators or 'canes.
...with thanks to Erika Pesantes for her article, "Runner Takes 'Mailman' Route" in the Sun Sentinel, March 3, 2013; and Reverend Randall Gill, author of Boynton Beach: Images of America.