In the News - Friday, May 14,
Sandy Norris informed postal officials Friday, May
7, of her decision not to renew a second three-year
contract as postmistress of the historic Kaweah Post
Office. It was not an easy decision as she has treasured
her time serving Kaweah and visitors from around the
Earlier this week, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS)
decided that on May
31, 2010 ,
the Kaweah Post Office would be closed permanently.
On Tuesday, postal auditors were at the North
site to take inventory.
During the time of the auditors' unannounced visit,
postal patrons were greeted by a handwritten “closed”
sign at the window where mail has been faithfully
received for 100 years.
Norris manages the Kaweah Post Office.
The building is a treasured landmark, a reminder
of simpler times, and a popular stop for tourists
and photographers. For the past century, the quaint
post office has been a vital center of the tiny community
Although the North
had an ad hoc post office from October 1879 through
May 1890, the official charter for a U.S. Post Office
was granted on May
17, 1890 .
Originally called Advance, the name was changed to
Kaweah on December
22, 1890 .
The acting superintendent of Sequoia and General Grant
National Parks referred to the area as “Kaweah Post
Office” as early as 1900, but the mail was handled
in those early days first at the tent and later at
the home of the local resident serving as postmaster.
It was in the spirit of neighbors helping neighbors
that the venerable Kaweah Post Office was built.
In 1910, six ranchers chipped in $2.50 each for materials
and built the 8-by-10-foot structure to provide a
consistent place to receive mail. The small, yet sturdy
post office has been moved at least three times to
better accommodate residents. Old photographs indicate
that its original location was nearer Mankin Creek.
Milton Savage (1926-2008), who was born on the Savage
Ranch in Kaweah, recounted in a 2000 interview that
his father, Ken Savage, had pulled the post office
by tractor to move it about 700 yards closer to the
home of Ida Purdy when she became the postmaster in
1926. It has remained at its present site since.
Neither Rain, Sleet, Snow— For
the past century, a succession of dedicated postal
employees and contractors has provided exemplary service
to their community. Even the devastating flood of
December 1955 could not stop the local mail delivery.
Even though all bridges were washed away, on Christmas
Day, Martha Warren brought mail over to stranded North
patrons by helicopter.
For the next several weeks, Martha and other postal
workers, including Muriel Barton and Postmaster Pauline
Farris, transported the mail across the raging river
via a wooden box strung on a cable to ensure the mail
could be delivered.
Now the USPS seeks to discontinue mail service to
Kaweah, even though this is not the first time that
one of the smallest functioning post offices in the
been threatened with closure. Service was discontinued
to Kaweah on November
30, 1925 ,
but resumed May
15, 1926 ,
when Ida Purdy took control. In November 1974, the
USPS abandoned Kaweah as a fourth-class post office.
A page on the USPS website currently lists the Kaweah
Post Office as inactive since April
26, 1974 ,
and shows no zip code. On May
1, 1975 ,
it reopened as a contract postal unit and has since
operated on that basis.
Newspaper articles over the decades tell of a recurring
pattern of closure attempts going back at least to
1953. Each time closure has been averted when protests
were received from around the world.
In 1973, the USPS opened bids for a new facility,
claiming that the 1910 building was condemned. Tulare
authorities confirmed that this was not the case.
Kaweah and Three
circulated petitions and the Kaweah Post Office was
In 1975 postal officials wanted it closed as it was
deemed “too primitive.” In 1991, “poor revenue” was
cited as the reason, as is the case now. Postmistress
Roberta Yardley responded by encouraging local residents
to buy their stamps at Kaweah.
Postal patrons from as far as Southern
California responded by buying
stamps via mail. Currently, the USPS is limiting the
supply of stamps available at Kaweah. It the USPS
continues on its present course, the Kaweah Post Office
will be lost forever.