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As It Was: Early Rogue River Canyon Residents Face Lack of Mail

Early residents of the Rogue River Canyon faced infrequent and inefficient mail service, relying for decades on miners who volunteered to post letters and pick up the mail when they traveled to town for supplies.

One story tells of miner Tommy East, who occasionally carried mail back from the post office in Coquille, Ore.  He picked up three letters addressed to Joe Younker c/o Shasta Costa Creek.  East’s thoughts were likely focused on making a big strike, because he spent the summer doing some extensive prospecting along the way.

The envelopes descended to the bottom of his sack and were forgotten.

At the close of his successful season, East made his way back to Coquille. While unpacking, he came upon the letters addressed to Younker.  Being an honest fellow, he gave them to the postmaster, where they remained until spring, awaiting someone heading up the river.

When the weather settled, East went by the post office again and offered to take any mail on his trek back to the Rogue River. He was handed a bundle, among which contained the same three letters addressed to Joe Younker.

By 1903, pack mule train trips made twice-weekly mail deliveries to the remote region.


Source: Atwood, Kay. Illahe, The Story of the Rogue River Canyon. Gandee Printer Center, Inc. Medford, Ore. 1978

Laurel earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Humboldt State. Her research efforts as a volunteer for the Curry Historical Society produced numerous newsletter articles and exhibits and earned her a reputation as a seasoned local history buff. Laurel is the author of "Renderings from the Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery", a 50-page booklet containing a walking tour and snippets about the lives and times of folks buried there. She is also a contributing writer to Oregon Coast Magazine.