Special Delivery, 1919

Hammel’s airborne shipping strategy

In the early days of aviation, seaplanes were especially popular on the smooth waters of Mobile Bay, which made for easy landings. With no bridge across the Bay, Hammel’s Department Store in Mobile used a hydroplane to make special deliveries to customers on the Eastern Shore. According to MB contributor Michael Thomason, “There is no record of how long this service lasted, but when the Cochrane Bridge opened in 1927, it was no longer necessary.”

Founded in 1885 by Leopold Hammel, Hammel’s Department Store occupied an impressive building on Royal Street beginning in 1902. “I have always heard they were a step above Gayfer’s, in that customers were often seated as they made their purchases, ” says MB contributor Tom McGehee.

Photo courtesy of Hammel’s, The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of South Alabama • colorization by Dynamichrome Limited

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