17 Let’s proceed to the main exhibit hall and look at some of the actual vehicles that have played a prominent role in speeding up mail delivery. Consider how long it used to take to send a letter across a relatively short distance. Back in the 1600’s it took two weeks on horseback to get a letter from Boston to New York, a distance of about 260 miles. Crossing a river was also a challenge. Ferry service was so irregular that a carrier would sometimes wait hours just to catch a ferry. For journeys inland, there was always the stagecoach, but the ride was by no means comfortable because it had to be shared with other passengers. The post office was pretty ingenious about some routes. In the nineteenth century, in the Southwestern desert, for instance, camels were brought in to help get the mail through. In Alaska, reindeer were used. This practice was discontinued because of the disagreeable temperament of these animals. We’ll stop here a minute so that you can enter this replica of a railway mail car. It was during the Age of the Iron Horse that delivery really started to pick up, in fact, the United States transported most bulk mail by train for nearly 100 years. The first airmail service didn’t start until 1918. Please take a few moments to look around. I hope you’ll enjoy your tour. And as you continue on your own, may I suggest you visit our impressive philatelic collection. Not only can you look at some of the more unusual stamps issues, but there is an interesting exhibit on how stamps are made.
【生词摘录】 1. on horseback: riding a horse 骑着马 2. ferry: n.［C］a boat that carries people or goods across a river or a narrow part of a sea 渡船；渡轮 3. carrier: n.［C］a company that moves goods or passengers from one place to another 运输公司 4. inland: adv. in a direction away from the coast and towards the center of a country 向内陆，在内地 5. stagecoach: n. ［C］a closed vehicle pulled by horses that in former times carried passengers who paid to go to a particular place（旧时的）驿站马车 6. by no means: definitely not 决不 7. ingenious: adj. an ingenious plan, idea, invention etc is the result of clever thinking and new ideas, and works well （计划、主意、发明等）巧妙的，精妙的 8. route: n.［C］the way from one place to another, especially a way that is regularly used and can be shown on a map（尤指经常使用，可在地图上显示的）路线 9. reindeer: n. ［C］a large deer with long wide horns 驯鹿 10. discontinue: v. to stop doing or providing something that you have regularly done or provided until now 中止，中断，终止 11. disagreeable: adj. not at all enjoyable or pleasant 令人不快的，不合意的，讨厌的；unfriendly and bad-tempered 不友好的，脾气坏的 12. temperament: n. ［C,U］the emotional part of someone’s character, especially how likely they are to be happy, angry etc 气质，性情，性格，禀性 13. replica: n. ［C］a very good copy, especially of a painting or other work of art（尤指艺术）复制品 14. bulk mail: the posting of large amounts of mail for a smaller cost than usual 大宗邮件寄送 15. impressive: adj. something that is impressive seems very good, large, important etc so that you admire it 给人深刻印象的 16. philatelic: adj. of or relating to philately or of interest to philatelists 集邮的