The stage route through White River Valley between Hamilton and Pioche carried mail asearly as the 1870's and the rule seemed to be to establish post offices at a number of stations along the way. The James Riordan family who moved onto the Big Warm Springs (Hotcreek) ranch in the 1870's had a post office established there. Effie Read reports a news item in the White Pine News for October 31, 1896--"A post office has been established at the Mathewson ranch which will be known as Stockville -- George Hayden, postmaster."
Thomas Judd mentioned having mail delivered at the Home Ranch a few days after hearrived in the Valley in April 1898. The post office was established in Lund a few months laterin August 1898 and in Preston about the same time. Bryant H. Ashby was the first postmaster atLund and Oliver Cloward the first at Preston.
Bryant (Byze) Ashby had the first post office in his temporary home on the Home Ranch andlater moved to the lot on the corner where Dick Gunderson lives. He moved back to St. Georgein 1900 and Agnes H. Gubler became the second postmaster. She kept the post office in the rockhome that stands on Milton Gardner's lot across the street north of the Grade School.
The first mail was brought into Pioche by train and then to White River twice a week by horse and buggy. John Melvin was driving this route before the settlers arrived and continued todo so for a number of years thereafter. An early account says the outfit he drove was a one-horsecart. Maggie Reid Hendrix remembers being at the post office in 1901 when he brought theword of the assassination of President McKinley.
After 1906, when the railroad came into Ely, the mail route was changed and White Rivermail was brought from Ely. The round trip of seventy miles with horse and buggy took two days. Joseph Oxborrow was one of the first mail carriers on the new route and also drove the mail to the ranches south of Lund, where, in the early 1900's, post offices had been established at CaveValley, Sunnyside and Sharp. Carl Stephens was postmaster at Cave Valley, John L. Whipple at Sunnyside and Theodore Young and Ralph Huber served as postmasters at Sharp. Ralph Huber had the name of the Sharp post office changed to Adaven which is Nevada spelled backwards.
A mail route was also established between Preston and Duckwater which was driven at different times by Lowell Petersen, Hy Whitlock, Bryant Oxborrow and George.Oxborrow.
After 1914 cars began to be used to carry the mail. The first, a "Model T" which JoeOxborrow bought in 1914, was also the first car to be purchased in Lund. Later GeorgeOxborrow used a Metz car to drive the mail. This had the gas tank low in the back and when thegas got low, which was the usual thing when they got to Currant Creek summit, they would haveto back up the summit in order to get the gas to feed into the carburetor. At other times a team ofhorses were kept stationed somewhere nearby to pull the cars over the summit so they couldcontinue on their way. From the beginning the stage carrying the mail carried freight andpassengers on occasion which it still does. After the Ely Lund route was established and carscame into general use, delivery was increased to three days a week.
About 1928 Roderick D. McKenzie took over the Ely route from Joseph Oxborrow and hedrove a truck that doubled as a mail truck and milk truck. He can be credited with the first dailymail delivery. He was delivering milk to Ely on a daily basis when he got the mail contract andbecause of this he was able to get daily mail service, except Sunday, to the Lund-Preston area. Vance McKenzie took over the mail contract from his father, R. D. McKenzie and Clinton J.Scow took over from him. The mail-milk truck arrangement was continued while VanceMcKenzie was driving and for several years after Clinton Scow took over. Then it wasdiscontinued when other arrangements were made for marketing the milk. Clinton Scow wasfollowed by his son, Gardner Scow and his wife Colleen Ivins Scow who carry the mail today(1979). Joseph Oxborrow, Clinton Scow and Gardner Scow all drove both the Ely and theSunnyside-Sharp routes. At other times the Sunnyside-Sharp or Adaven contract was givenindependently. Among the drivers on this route were George Oxborrow and Will Hutchings.
Tenure and dates of service for some postmasters at Lund are not available, but after AgnesGubler, Ellen Bryner, Moses Harrison and William Hansen each served for a time, using a part oftheir homes for the office. Edmund A. Hendrix Jr. was the first to have a separate building. Hebuilt a cement building on the upper street next to the old flour mill to house the post office and astore he called the Lund Cash Store.
On February 10, 1925, M. M. (Mart) Gardner was appointed postmaster. He used the E. A.Hendrix building for a time and then moved into a building centrally located on Main street thathad been used as a store first by Orrin Snow, then Leslie Rowe and afterward by BryantOxborrow. Mart Gardner, too, kept a store in connection with the post office. On May 12, 1928,he resigned as postmaster but continued to operate the business known as Gardner Grocery untilhis retirement in 1972. A business still operates in the same building using the Gardner name.
Vera Carter Reid was commissioned to serve as postmaster May 12, 1928. At first she usedthe Gardner Grocery building for the post office and also started a small dry goods business inpart of the building. Then, in 1929, she formed a partnership with her brothers, Arthur N. andLafayette Carter, and they constructed a cement block building on the corner of the Carter lot onMain street. A special area was built in it for the post office. The rest of the building housed ageneral merchandise business that operated under the name of Reid and Carter.
Vera C. Reid resigned as postmaster April 24, 1931 and Arthur N. Carter was appointed tothe position. He served for thirty years and retired November 24, 1961. Lois Horsley served aspostmaster from November 24, 1961 until June 13, 1963 in a small building next to her home inthe southeast part of town. On June 13, 1963, Ludean H. Carter was appointed postmaster andmoved the post office back to the Reid and Carter building, which has had a number of modernimprovements and is presently known as Carter's. In July 1972 the Lund post office, servingabout one hundred patrons, was large enough to be classed as a third class post office. As of thisdate (1979) Ludean H. Carter is the postmaster with a replacement clerk to help her.
After its establishment in the late 1800's with Oliver Cloward as the first postmaster, thePreston post office continued to function for half a century. Margaret C. Windous, MaggieJensen, Wells Bradley and Hyrum Whitlock served their turn as postmaster. For most of thoseyears they, too, operated the post office in connection with a small store. This was housed in asmall lumber building on the Neils Jensen lot on the main street in the center of the town. Hyrum (Hy) Whitlock was the last postmaster and storekeeper in Preston. In 1951 the post officewas closed and the Preston area is now served by a star route from Ely, with daily service excepton Sunday.
The Cave Valley and Sunnyside post offices were closed early in 1933. Adaven continued asa post office for a short time after but eventually it was closed, too. A star route now serves theranches south of Lund with delivery once a week.
Pioneering in the postal service as in other areas had its hazards. Chief among these weresnow and bad roads. In the horse and buggy days these did not present as much of a problem asthey did later with the advent of the automobile. Sleighs could be used at times or in anemergency the driver could unhitch his team and proceed on his way riding one of the horses andcarrying the "locked sack" (first class mail). Once when Bryant Oxborrow was taking his sister,Effie, on the stage to catch the train to school in Salt Lake City they did just that--unhitched theteam and left the buggy in the snow at the foot of Murry Summit and rode the horses into Ely.
Even today with modern cars, improved highways and sophisticated snow equipment, snowcan be hazardous. In the early days, when cars and tires were far from perfect, roads merewheeltracks made by the vehicles using them and any attempt at snow removal was likely to beGeorge or Alonzo (Lonnie) Gardner clearing paths for the school children, the mail driver had totake his chances. When Morris (Mark) Oxborrow was a small boy he was starting out with hisfather, Joe Oxborrow, with the southbound mail when the old "Model T" got stuck in asnowbank near Six Mile. His father threw the "locked sack" over his shoulder and they started tohike to Lund, hoping to overtake Joe Vance who had passed them driving a team a short timebefore. Of course they never did overtake him and hiked all the way to Lund, arriving worn outand nearly frozen from tramping in the deep snow.
In late January and February of 1932, White River was virtually isolated for a period of aboutthree weeks by a series of snow storms one after another. Roderick McKenzie was driving the mail and milk truck and for most of the time Vance McKenzie carried the first class mail onhorseback for his father going into Ely one day and back to Lund the next. The women madecheese and butter with part of the milk that could not be delivered and part of it was separatedand the cream saved. A few times during the period a sleigh went into Ely with the rest of themail and the cream. Other years when snow made it difficult stand out, 1933, 1936, 1949 (theyear of the "haylift") butnonehad as much impact on the postal service as 1932, the year of the"big snow".
During a snowy winter Murry Summit was always the greatest obstacle and often a carmaneuvering through the deep snow didn't have a chance to get past the stalled cars blocking theway to the top. The only thing to do was for everyone to help everyone else until one by one thecars were dug out and sent on their way. Sometimes cars from Lund, if they could get turnedaround would go back home, and sometimes the mail would be all day getting into Ely andwould make the return trip the next day. Perhaps in the words of the motto of the United Statespostal service, "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stops these courtiers fromthe swift completion of their appointed rounds", but as this history can attest, snow can comemighty close.
This account of the Post Office was researched and compiled, for the most part, by Dale N.Carter.