US /

This Is the Only Floating ZIP Code in the US

Meet the intrepid mail boat of Detroit's JW Westcott Company
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2016 3:55 PM CDT
This Is the Only Floating ZIP Code in the US
The JW Westcott II, the only floating ZIP code in the US.   (US Coast Guard)

No home or building in the US has the ZIP code 48222, and yet more packages are being delivered to it than ever before. The New York Times has a fascinating peek at life aboard the country's only floating ZIP code, assigned to a nearly 70-year-old boat that calls the Detroit River home. Mail addressed to 48222 is delivered to the JW Westcott II of Detroit's JW Westcott Company (est. 1874), which it turn delivers it to the massive freighters crossing the Great Lakes between the US and Canada. The freighters don't have time to stop for their crews' mail, so the JW Westcott II sails right up alongside the vessels, keeps pace with them, and makes the delivery, usually in a bucket (hence the company's official motto: "Mail by pail.")

At the same time the Postal Service is hurting, business is booming for JW Westcott Company. The freighters' crews rarely have a chance to shop, sometimes going two months without leaving the boat—Jim Hogan, part of five generations of Hogans to run the mail boat, describes them as "basically trapped"—so the JW Westcott II helps them out, delivering pants, toilet paper, coffee pods, pizza, books, cigarettes, and more. Sailors pay over the phone with their credit cards or simply lower cash down in the bucket. The JW Westcott II services approximately 100 freighters, making 15 to 18 deliveries every 24 hours. Read more about the exploits of the JW Westcott II here. (More mail stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.