In service since 1949, the J.W. Westcott II has seen a lot of action in her lifetime. Bringing mail to cargo ships between Canada and the U.S. via the Detroit River, the tugboat has survived war, civil unrest, political turmoil and now, the supreme reign of the internet to faithfully perform her slow and steady duties.
With the assistance of a small crew, Captain Sam Buchanan has manoeuvred the Westcott along the river some 55,000 times, drawing the little vessel up to enormous ships and freighters and executing challenging deliveries with expert speed and efficiency. Carrying on this 140-year-old tradition, the Westcott is now the only boat of its kind in operation. It even boasts its own postcode – 48222 – to prove its importance on the water. (Though why you’d want to send a letter to the post office itself we can’t imagine.)
Unlike an ordinary post office, this one runs 24 hours a day from mid April to December, helping sailors keep in contact with the rest of the world when they’re transporting ore, coal and iron along the river.
“These people rely on us to get them their stuff,” Buchanan told Atlas Obscura. “I go out in all kinds of weather, at all hours of the day to try to make sure that they get it.”