Many (especially newcomers to the valley) wonder why Mazama doesn’t have a post office. Even little Methow and not-so-bustling Carlton have post offices. Those who have been around for a while know that Mazama had a post office, too. In fact, in the early 1900s, there were two of them in the area — the other at Robinson Creek.
Digging around a little about the history of the Mazama post office, I found that the original post office building is still standing — at the Shafer Historical Museum in Winthrop. (It later became an assayer’s office, which is how it is displayed.) A visit there on a chilly day of closing weekend was an eye opener. What a treasure trove of history! If you have never been to the museum, put it on your calendar for next year when it opens.
Focusing on the history of the post office, I learned more about Minnie Stewart, who was the first postmistress.
When Minnie sent an application to open a post office called Goat Creek Post Office, for some reason the Postal Service rejected the name. According to “Mazama, The Past 125 Years,” written by Mazama resident Doug Devin, Winthrop mogul Guy Waring then suggested the town be called Mazama because that was the Greek word for mountain goat. “Actually, the word was a Spanish word for a genus of South American deer, but Greek for mountain goat apparently was close enough,” Mr. Devin writes. So, the Mazama Post Office had a beginning, opening June 1, 1900.
When Minnie had to give up the post office after a few years, she recommended Angus McLeod as the new postmaster. Angus kept a hotel, bar, and boarding house at a location close to the present Mazama Community Club where he established the “new” post office. He manned it for the next fifteen years. Sharon Sumpter, archivist at the museum, informed me that McLeod Mountain — the location of a 2018 wildfire — is named after Angus.
The post office passed through many hands after Angus, finally landing in the new Mazama Store built in the 1940s by Bill and Vi Pedersen. Several owners later, in the 1990s, another new owner had trouble with the “red tape and bureaucracy that went along with running a post office and moved it out of the store after only a few months,” according to Doug Devin’s book. That was the demise of an official post office in Mazama.
Mazama residents are serviced out of the Winthrop Post Office by a contracted rural route carrier who delivers to mailboxes on the main roads and to a bank of mailboxes next to the Mazama Community Club. (I have not been able to uncover how a person gets one of those boxes; if anyone knows, please email me.)
Since it seems like the population of Mazama is growing with many new houses popping up, I asked Winthrop Postmistress Louise Bighouse if she thought the U.S. Postal Service would ever entertain the idea of a new little post office. She shook her head and said it is not likely because the current system works well.
When we retired here, my youngest son said that he could just imagine our big trip to town would be to pick up the mail. Often, that has proved to be true. An absolute perk from the U.S.P.S. is a free service called Informed Delivery. Everyday an email arrives with scanned images of the mail that will be in your box that day. Saves many trips to town when the only mail in the box will be another letter from Medicare or AARP!
Note: As mentioned above, the historical information was obtained from the Shafer Museum and Doug Devin’s book “Mazama, The Past 125 Years,” which is available at the Mazama Store. The museum receives all proceeds from the sale of the book.
Mystery: Scott Johnston and Midge Cross would really like to know where the life-size cardboard sheep that appeared on their front porch came from. The mystery thickens because it’s a black sheep. Is there a secret meaning, they wonder?
Next up: Higgins’ diggin’s.