First post office in Mason County is established at Oakland on April 24, 1858.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 4/17/2006
  • Essay 7727
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On April 24, 1858, the first post office in Mason (then called Sawamish) County was established at Oakland, the county seat. Weekly mail service between Olympia in the South and Seabeck on Hood Canal involves an arduous journey by the letter carrier via rowboat, canoe, and horseback. The main post office on Oakland Bay will merge with the Shelton post office in 1889 and Oakland will be abandoned as a community.

On September 1, 1856, the commissioners of Sawamish County placed the county seat at Oakland on Oakland Bay next to the donation claim of William Morrow. The settlement acquired a dry goods and gun store and the post office. Eventually, steamboat captain and part-time logger Edwin Miller took the route without a contract and hired carriers like Tom Moran.

Moran would leave Olympia in an open boat and row as far as Arkada at the mouth of Hammersly Inlet. There he waited for the flood tide to take him up the narrow fjord to Oakland on Oakland Bay, a total distance of about 25 miles. He spent the night in Oakland and the next day, saddled a horse he stabled there. Moran rode north through the woods to Union City where he boarded his horse and rowed another 30 miles down to Seabeck. The following day, Moran retraced his route by boat and horseback, picking up letters. The contract required that the circuit be completed every seven days.

Eventually, Lafayette and George Willey took over the Oakland -- Olympia leg with their small steamer Hornet and other, larger vessels.

Shelton grew faster than Oakland due in part to William Morrow’s prohibition against alcohol. When the railroad came to Shelton, voters moved the county seat from Oakland to Shelton in 1888. On January 15, 1889, the Oakland post office officially combined with the Shelton post office and Oakland faded from memory.

Sources: Michael Fredson, Oakland to Shelton: The Sawdust Trail (Shelton: Mason County Historical Society, 1976), 13-14, 42-43; Dr. Harry W. Deegan, History of Mason County Washington (Shelton: The Author, 1943), 10, 23, 36.

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