Salt Flat, TX

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While in Texas, let us pause at Salt Flat, 70 miles east of El Paso, once the site of salt beds that dried up when ranchers drilled for water and the salt lakes vanished. The post office was established in Salt Flat in 1941, moving from nearby Ables. Ben H. Gilmore was the first postmaster of Salt Flat. His post office closed in 1945, but a new one opened in 1947. Today Salt Flat has a handful of dwellings, the post office (zip code 79847), a cafe and a gas station serving travelers visiting Guadalupe Mountains National Park or motoring along the road that runs from El Paso to Carlsbad, New Mexico.

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Kilgore, TX

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My goodness. If you were going to write home and tell the family you’d struck oil, this would be the post office where you mailed that letter. In 1930, Kilgore was on the verge of extinction when Columbus M. “Dad” Joiner hit a gusher. At one point, more than 1,000 wooden oil derricks lined the streets, and the town’s population boomed from 500 to 12,000. By 1940, the majority of the oil was played out, but that was the year Kilgore College introduced the Rangerettes, so all was not lost.

Jamestown, VA

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As post offices go, this one is fairly humble. Jamestown, Virginia, was something of a forgotten backwater when this photo was taken, circa 1907, the year of the Jamestown Exposition. Held downriver from Jamestown at Sewell’s Point, the Expo celebrated the 300th anniversary of the Virginia colony, drew national attention to the area,  and eventually led to the establishment of a naval base in Norfolk. Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt attended the Exposition, but it is doubtful they traveled to Jamestown proper to post a letter.

Walkerville, MI

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When last heard from, the village of Walkerville, Michigan, had a population of 254. I don’t know if that’s up or down from the winter of 1917, when this photo of the postal sleigh and some well-bundled postmen was taken in front of the Walkerville post office.

Ona, WV

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In 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy entered the Democratic primary in West Virginia, running against Hubert H. Humphrey. A Roman Catholic from Massachusetts, Kennedy had to work hard to win over voters skeptical of his religion and his eastern liberal views. And he did. He is shown here campaigning in Ona, a crossroads town in Cabell County, in front of the U.S. Post Office. I love the woman in the window, upper left, just above the post office sign.