As It Was: River Mailman Covers Gold Beach to Agness Route
In 1908, Frank Lowery was an accomplished river boatman when he began running the mail route from Gold Beach to Agness, Ore. He earned the nickname “Old Reliable” and a reputation for cheerfulness and generosity.
Over the years, Lowery carried all kinds of freight, including a piano, kitchen range, cast iron tub, kerosene, and dynamite to miners. He also brought oinking, gobbling and bleating livestock downriver to market.
With no roads into the Rogue canyon, anything that met the postal requirements of weight and size was carried in by mail boat. Shovels, machinery, wire fencing, and groceries went upriver and gold ore came back down.
Several daring rescues furthered Lowery’s reputation of reliability. He also successfully transported a Chevrolet roadster through the 32 miles of fast water to Agness. Asked by police to investigate crimes, he sometimes returned with sad-faced and manacled passengers on the downriver trip. Each December, he delivered a large, jolly man wearing a red suit to the children’s school Christmas party.
In 1930, Lowery stopped running mail boats, but remained a river boatman for many years.
Source: Schroeder, Walt. Characters, Legends and Mysteries of Curry County, Oregon. Curry County Historical Society Press, 2007, pp. 197-99; Meier, Gary & Gloria. Whitewater Mailmen: The Story of the Rogue River Mail Boats. Maverick Publications, Inc., 1995.