Ah, the trusty mailbox. A basic design that hasn't really changed much for decades. Usually made out of thin, stamped metal and shaped roughly like an oversized loaf of bread, the purpose of the mailbox is basic: a place for a mail carrier to leave your mail that offers some protection from the elements. The traditional mailbox style, like the ones seen above, offer no security. You simply trust nobody will come by and take your mail.

Mail delivery to early Montana was hit-and-miss in the 1860's, according to a piece written by Missoula Current columnist Jim Harmon. Miners and settlers at the time had to rely on the Pony Express.  Railroads eventually arrived to Montana, and with them came the mail. Most train stations offered a mail office. By the 1880's and 1890's every town in the new state was clamoring for it's own post office.

I had difficulty determining online where the very first official US Post Office opened in Montana. USPS records indicate Billings was the first community to receive rural route delivery, on February 1st, 1902. Stevensville, Kalispell, Hamilton and Columbia Falls received rural deliver a year later.

Most mailboxes are pretty boring. Then, there are those who choose to make their rural delivery mailboxes a little more... interesting. You'll find most of these unique mailboxes when you're out driving the backroads and byways of Montana. Some are quite detailed, others whimsical and all of them are creative.

Mark Greytak and his wife operate a website called MontanaPictures.net, a "website for people homesick for Montana.™" They started the site nearly twenty years ago, after life made them to move from Montana - twice. Mark generously agreed to share their photo collection of cool mailboxes they've seen around the state. Take a look.

Whimsical Homemade Mailboxes Only Found in Montana

Made from recycled parts and pieces, these unique mailboxes are anything but boring.

Thanks again  to Mark Greytak for sharing the photos. Check out his page for hundreds of cool, Montana pictures.