Museum virtual event tracks mail history

Francisco Bravo and Alistair Lee attach messages to a carrier pigeon. Catalina used carrier pigeons to send mail in the late 1800s. Photo courtesy of Catalina Island Museum

Exhibit includes 1826 letter sent from West Coast to East Coast

The Catalina Island Museum continues to stay connected to its community through virtual events. This month’s event explores the island’s mail carrier history and its connection to a significant part of communication by mail. The virtual event, “You’ve Got Mail: Catalina Island’s Mail Carrier History” takes place Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021 at 11 a.m. (PST) on Zoom.

The museum will present a virtual program highlighting a rare letter in its permanent collection from 1826. Written on the island and mailed to Ipswich, Massachusetts, this was the first known letter carried from the West Coast to the East Coast via Cape Horn.

The museum’s Director of Exhibitions Johnny Sampson will explore the significance of this letter, how it relates to United States and Mexican history, and a brief history about the use of carrier pigeons on the island. Local resident Francisco Bravo will share information about training pigeons and Margarita Jackson, the Post Mistress of Avalon’s Post Office, will share how even today the island is unique in the way its mail delivery is handled.

“We are so thrilled that virtual events like this can help bring attention to items our permanent collection,” said Julie Perlin Lee, executive director of the Museum.

“This letter in particular has a significant connection to the history of our region when it was still a territory of Mexico,” said Perlin.

“In addition, we are excited to explore the island’s use of carrier pigeons in the late 1800s and recently made history by sending messages over to the mainland using that same method of communication,” said Perlin.

The museum worked with Bravo and the Compton Homing Pigeon Club to send messages from a few local children via pigeon over to the mainland from the island for the first time in 123 years.

A video documenting the release will be included in the virtual event this Saturday.

The event will take place entirely on Zoom. Visit to register and to receive the event link.

This event is offered to museum members for $5 and non-members for $10.

Due to the state and county mandates the museum’s exhibition galleries are temporarily closed.

Its retail store is currently open for in-store shopping Wednesday–Sunday from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. at a reduced capacity with enhanced health and safety precautions to ensure the safety of visitors and staff.

For more information, visit To stay connected and enjoy the museum’s virtual programming during this time, follow the museum’s social media platforms @CatalinaMuseum on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

About Catalina Island Museum

The Catalina Island Museum offers the best in art and history exhibitions, music and dance performances, lectures by guest speakers from all over the world, and the finest in silent, documentary and international film.

The museum’s Ada Blanche Wrigley Schreiner Building is located in the heart of Avalon at 217 Metropole Ave. For more information, call (310) 510-2414 or visit

Museum virtual event tracks mail history