Magnolia Springs, a small town along the Gulf Coast of Alabama on the Magnolia River, has a unique United States mail delivery system that is one hundred years old. The mail is the only river route mail delivery in the continental United States.
Magnolia Springs, Baldwin County, Alabama November 1928 (Alabama Department of Archives and History)
The river mail delivery system was started in 1915 because the people of the community had a difficult time traversing the muddy clay road to get to the post office, even on horseback. There are a few summer water mail routes in the country on lakes and rivers but Magnolia Springs has the only water mail route that operates year round.
Magnolia Springs is a very old town located in Baldwin County that developed from a Spanish land grant in the year 1800. The Magnolia River was originally called River de Lin, or River del Salto. The largest enterprise in the area was the turpentine distillation.
During the 1819-33 time period a brick factory along the south river bank supplied brick for construction of Fort Morgan at the mouth of Mobile Bay.
The name Magnolia Springs came from the ever-flowing springs and the towering canopy of magnolia trees.
The town rapidly became a primary destination for families who fought on both sides of the War Between the States due to the healing powers of the springs in the area.
The following article appeared in the Chicago Clini: And Pan-therapeutic Journal, Volume 18, 1905
The Waters at Magnolia Springs (Alabama
A point which seems to have escaped the attention of many students of American mineral waters, is the presence in some parts of Alabama of waters most remarkable for their low minreralization. We have already called attention to the small amount of mineral matter in a water found at Citronelle. One of the most remarkable waters, however, in the way of absolute purity is that at Magnolia Springs, in Baldwin County. This water contains but 1.401 grains of mineral salts to the gallon—to all practical purposes a natural distilled water, possessing every element solvent and eliminating property of distilled water without the objectionable features which scientific investigations have found it. It is upon this low mineralization that the Poland Springs, of Maine, and the Chippewa Springs, of Wisconsin have based their curative claims. While it is erroneous to assume that these pure, lightly mineralized waters represent the only valuable mineral or medicinal waters, they certainly possess solvent qualities which make them ideal in the conditions of faulty elimination common to over-fed, sedentary workers. The facilities at Magnolia Springs for the care of patients and guests are excellent while the amusements and diversions are such as to assure a pleasant and beneficial winter holiday under ideal conditions.
The beautiful St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was consecrated in 1902 after being built from pine timber taken from the land where it now resides. The Chapel is listed with the National Register of Historic Places and the Baldwin County Historic Development Commission.
Today, nearly two hundred mailboxes hang out over docks on the river awaiting the daily mail.
ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Exploration: Lost & Forgotten Stories (Volume 1) is a collection of lost and forgotten stories about the people who discovered and initially settled in Alabama.
Some stories include:
- The true story of the first Mardi Gras in America and where it took place
- The Mississippi Bubble Burst – how it affected the settlers
- Did you know that many people devoted to the Crown settled in Alabama –
- Sophia McGillivray- what she did when she was nine months pregnant
- Alabama had its first Interstate in the early days of settlement