Kaweah Post Office
Photo © Kaweah Common Wealth.com
In 2010 the historic Kaweah Post Office celebrated its 100th birthday, and commemorated 120 years of mail service to the community of Kaweah, California, a neighbor of Three Rivers.
The charming, picturesque post office building was constructed by local ranchers and residents in 1910 to give a permanent home to the mail service established in 1890 for the Kaweah Colony (See Jay O'Connells's book Co-operative Dreams, A History of the Kaweah Colony). A lively, eccentric group of about 500 labor activists and nonconformists mostly from San Francisco, but attracting members from as far away as England, the Kaweah Colony was established in 1886 as a Utopian, socialist experiment in which participants would enjoy benefits based on the labor they contributed. They established a newspaper, a minimum wage and a system of currency based on time credits. Their economy was centered on harvesting sequoia trees, so they constructed, by hand, a tortuous road up the canyon to access the trees. They settled in tents eight miles up the North Fork of the Kaweah River and operated until 1892, when inner conflicts and the U.S. government's seizure of land to create what is now Sequoia National Park brought about their demise as a colony.
The building, which measures only 12 by 15 feet in size, was constructed of local cedar and redwood by volunteer postal patrons in 1910, each contributing $2.50 toward materials. It has remained in almost continuous operation for 100 years, subject to the vagaries of the U.S. Postal Service. It currently serves 47 box holders with daily mail delivery, "manned" by a volunteer, since the U.S.P.S. rescinded its contract as a full-service post office in May, 2010.
North Fork Road, where the post office is located, was the only entrance into Sequoia National Park until the General's Highway was built in 1926. Until that time, the post office functioned as something of an early "mini mart," selling honey, tires, gasoline, snacks and water to tourists braving the road to the park in their Model T's.
Today, in addition to providing daily mail box delivery, the Kaweah Post Office serves as a meeting place for neighbors who often walk there from home, and a subject for photographers, film-makers and artists of many genre ( see Nadi Spencer and Jana Botkin). It is a picturesque survivor in a time when budget cuts are closing down hundreds of small post offices around the United States. (Article in New York Times Sunday Edition, 6 Feb. 2011), where a sense of community and history is alive and well.
We have some wonderful memorabilia from our Centennial Celebration for sale: T-shirts, posters, cachet envelopes, Zazzle stamps.
How to find us: Go east from Visalia on Hwy. 198, into Three Rivers. Turn left onto NorthFork Drive (there's a Post Office sign) and continue 3 1/4 miles. The post office is on the left, pretty small, so look sharp or you'll miss us! You will be glad you stopped.
Time Period Represented: 1890 - 2011
Hours Open: Usually 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Daily
Visitor Fees: None. It's open for visiting any day of the week and weekends, 24 hours a day.
Seasons Open: All four
There's a charming little park area adjacent to the Post Office which is very dog friendly.