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As It Was: Mail Takes a Month to Reach Upper Coquille River

For settlers along the upper Coquille River in the 1800s, mail delivery was tenuous.  The closest post office was in Empire City, a present-day district of Coos Bay, Ore.  The round trip took about four days, and generally depended upon the generosity of local farmers who sporadically sailed downstream to sell their produce.

Farmers took along an empty mail sack when they loaded their boats and headed to Empire City.  The journey included maneuvering around 18 beaver dams in the aptly named Beaver Slough.
 
Farmers usually spent the night at an inn run by Judge Hall, who charged a dollar, plus 50 cents for dinner.  It cost an extra $2 if the farmers wanted a team of oxen to haul the boat across the isthmus at the head of the slough.

The farmers would arrive in Empire City the following day, sell their produce, collect the mail, and head back on the next tide.  Most mail was about a month old when it reached its destination.

That’s how it was done until a regular mail route was established from Roseburg in 1870.
 

Dodge, Orvil. Pioneer History of Coos and Curry Counties, Oregon. Salem, OR, Capital Printing Company, 1898, pp. 229-30.

Valerie Ing was a teenager when she hosted her first music program on the airwaves. As a student at SOU, she was JPR’s Chief Student Announcer and the first volunteer in our newsroom. She's now JPR’s Northern California Program Coordinator, hosting Siskiyou Music Hall from JPR's Redding studio in the Cascade Theatre.