More than 600 Boy Scouts and Scout Leaders will hike 34 miles from Pompano Beach to Miami Beach to commemorate the 52nd annual Barefoot Mailman Hike this weekend.
The Boy Scouts of America South Florida Council relived part of history, walking the trail of the Barefoot Mailmen who carried mail on foot between 1885 and 1893. The Barefoot Mailmen braved heat, thunderstorms, alligators, sharks, and bears to carry mail between these two cities.
Crossing inlets by rowboat and hiking along the beach, a round trip took six days. Their exploits earned them $600 a year, and later resulted in a best-selling book and a movie.
James Hamilton was the most well-known carrier. He mysteriously disappeared after only three months on the job. It is believed that he lost his life at Hillsboro Inlet in Pompano Beach, FL, where he attempted to swim from the shoreline to the other bank to retrieve his rowboat that had drifted. Search parties scoured the coastline, but only found Hamilton’s clothes and a backpack of letters.
Following in Hamilton’s footsteps, modern-day Barefoot Mailmen were self-sufficient, carrying their food supply, shelter, and letters on their backs. They camped overnight on the beach. On the second day, family and friends gathered to applaud and cheer Scouts --- some barefooted and blistered --- as they completed their journey.
As in every year, Miami Customer Relations Coordinator Mirtha Uriarte (pictured below from last year's event) will collect letters and affix a “Barefoot Mailman Station” special cancellation to each envelope to commemorate the event.