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The story behind the mysterious Swiss mailbox stuck on the side of a mountain

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
The story behind the mysterious Swiss mailbox stuck on the side of a mountain
You can see it from here, but Jungfraujoch boasts Switzerland's highest mailbox. Image by Andi from Pixabay

If you want to mail a letter in the village of Staubern in the Swiss canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden, you’d better have a very long ladder or climbing rope.


That is because the mailbox hangs 80 metres high on a rocky façade of the local mountain.

How did it get there in the first place?

In 2009, the Post Office scrapped mailboxes which they said were no longer profitable.

One of them was located at Staubern’s train station, where it had been in service for 45 years.

However, local restaurant owner Daniel Lüchinger did not remain neutral about this move.

To protest the Post’s decision, he took the yellow mailbox and screwed it into the rock wall at an altitude of 80 metres.

It has been hanging there ever since, according to reports in Swiss media on Tuesday. 

Despite its inconvenient location, the mailbox is still in use and is regularly emptied by Lüchinger himself or a mountain guide.

How exactly they manage to do that (or, for that matter, how do people drop their mail into the mailbox hanging 80 metres high on a rocky slope) remains a mystery — just as the well-guarded secret of the Appenzeller cheese. 

What else is there to know about Swiss mailboxes?

If you think there is nothing even remotely interesting about them, think again.

Urs Köchli, who has the official title of ‘Mr. Mailbox’ provides, on the website of Swiss Post, a glimpse into mailbox trivia.

For instance, there are currently 14,289 mailboxes across Switzerland, which may sound like like a ‘blah’ fact, but you should remember that number in case it comes up on your naturalisation exam. (And also find out how many there are in your local community; not knowing this may cost you your citizenship).


And here are some other facts:

Not all mailboxes are yellow

While the vast majority are, there are some exceptions.

Melchior Berri, the 19th-century Basel architect, designed green, gold, and black mailboxes,

Today, there are still six mailboxes of this type in the Basel area, classified as historical monuments. Five of them belong to individuals, and one to the Post Office.


Why are some mailboxes emptied in the evening and others in the morning?

Usually, the mail is collected in the morning, during the delivery round.

However, the mailboxes known for a large volume of mail are emptied in the evening.

How does the Post Office decide on the location of a mailbox?

In principle, there is a public mailbox in each post office branch.

For all other sites, the rule is that there must be mailboxes in places with a heavy flow of people, such as train stations, shopping centres, and public squares.


Is the Staubern mailbox the highest in Switzerland?

While it is the highest visible sign of rebellion, it is not the highest in altitude.

That title goes to the one located at 3,454 metres on the Jungfraujoch mountain in the Bernese Alps.

However, this is not the usual yellow, rectangle model. Rather it is a red Japanese mailbox that has been installed there since July 1993.

The reason, according to Mr. Mailbox, is that highest post offices in Japan and Switzerland – the Jungfraujoch and the Fujikawaguchiko — signed a partnership agreement at the time, which provided for each of the two countries to install one of mailboxes on the other’s mountain.


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