© 2024 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
Listen | Discover | Engage a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

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.

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.