When I was a kid, I used to read a lot―but I was never into
novels. I don't know if it was my attention span or what, but I
read local newspapers (which is where I suspect I drew my interest
in typography) and reference books: encyclopedia articles,
dictionaries, and even phone books. Each phone book typically has
a list of local ZIP Codes. I soon recognized the pattern: the ZIP
Codes were separated by area, and within each area, the numbers
were assigned in alphabetical order. I seem to recall encountering
an older phone book that had a ZIP Code in it that I hadn't seen
in previous lists, discovering that a few small towns had their
ZIP Codes taken away (and that one could get a good idea of how
big or small a town was by whether they had a post office and/or
their own phone exchange, or in the biggest cases, how many of
Many years later, I noticed that some of these old ZIP Codes,
even if they no longer are in use, may still be useful. Consider
that the ZIP Code is the default way of voluntarily giving one's
general location; if you're looking for something, it's usually
within a certain mile radius from the ZIP Code you enter. Well,
sometimes, there is a need to choose something a little more
asymmetrical. For example, I'm from Little Valley, New York. If I
decide to do online dating, and I search for all matches within,
say, 50 miles of Little Valley, I'm going to pick up a lot of
people in the city of Buffalo, and it's been my experience that
people in bigger cities tend to only be willing to date in a MUCH
smaller radius. On the other hand, I might miss someone in, say,
Potter County, PA―she may be the same distance away as the
Buffalonian, but the smaller population there might make her more
willing to consider someone further away. (If I expand to 100
miles, it gets worse, as that now covers the city of Toronto, and
even without the even bigger city as a factor, the international
border is pretty much a dealbreaker.) So, strategically, to get
better matches, it would make sense to pick a center point for
that radius further south to filter out the big-city matches.
The areas directly further south enough to create an ideal radius
while still being relatively honest about where I am happened to
be locations that no longer have ZIP Codes for miles around,
meaning they now use a ZIP for a location that's quite some
distance away. (Most of these towns lost their post offices in the
1960s, through some fascinating stories of their own.) The fact
that the Postal Service no longer uses these ZIP Codes doesn't
mean the obsolete ZIP Codes can no longer be used for location
purposes. Most services don't include them, alas, so I decided as
a public service to compile them here, since they don't show up on
search engines. To compile this list, I looked up the Postal
Service database (in numerical/alphabetical order), noted the gaps
in numbering, and aligned the ghost towns to the best of my
knowledge. Since this is government data, and lists of things
aren't copyrightable anyway, feel free to use the data however you
please. You're welcome.
OK, enough rambling. On with the list.
Coordinates: 42.207°N, 79°W
Conewango is a peculiar post office: for various points in its
history, it has had at least two post offices (and occasionally
more, especially in the 19th century): one in the Cattaraugus side
(Conewango Creek) and the other for the hamlet of Conewango Valley
(which is ever so slightly in Chautauqua County), even though the
town was never all that populous. Each appears to have been
reserved a ZIP Code (14725 and 14726). The Conewango Valley post
office bounced across both sides of the county border before
settling in Cattaraugus County in 1957; seven years later, on
April 24, 1964 (not long after the ZIP Code system was
introduced), the second Conewango post office was closed.
Coordinates: 42.248°N, 78.4°W
Ischua is located between the towns of Hinsdale and Farmersville.
I explicitly remember Ischua's ZIP Code being listed in a 1980s
phone book I perused many years ago. Its mail is now handled
through the Hinsdale post office.
Coordinates: 42.007°N, 78.506°W
Knapp Creek, a small hamlet near the Pennsylvania border in the
town of Allegany is actually still listed in the Postal Service
database, even though its post office closed in 1996. It has since
been removed from most ZIP Code databases. Its mail is now handled
by the Olean post office.
Coordinates: 42.029°N, 78.973°W
Onoville, flippantly named after the townsfolk rejected all other
options out of hand by responding "oh, no," is the main population
center of the town of South Valley. Onoville today is mainly a
seasonal community centered around the marina built in the 1960s;
its permanent population was forced out when they built the Kinzua
Dam. Onoville's post office closed June 30, 1964; it is served by
the Frewsburg post office.
I'm not entirely sure of this one, which alphabetically indicates
a town between Panama and Portland. Persia is my best guess. It's
the township that contains the southern half of the village of
Gowanda (14070), and it cuts through the boundary between the
147xx ZIP Codes and the 140/141 codes that are used in the Buffalo
suburbs. It's included in the 1933 Cattaraugus Republican article
One 'Salamanca' in United States; Many Cattaraugus Co. Names
Duplicated," which also lists a number of towns that don't
fit into the ZIP Code system. Looking across some of the 19th
Century maps of the county available on the county Web site, it
appears there at least WAS a Persia post office no later than
The second, but less likely, possibility is Plato. Currently the
site of the Allegany Mountain Resort at Rainbow Lake, Plato is
located on the top of a hill at the Mansfield/East Otto town line.
The same 1869 map marks Plato, but doesn't indicate it has a post
office, nor is it listed on the Postal Service database, so if
14768 was in Cattaraugus County, Persia is more likely than Plato.
The other possibility is Poland Center, located between Falconer
and Kennedy in Chautauqua County. It's probably not Pope, which
closed its short-lived post office in 1903 or so, long before the
ZIP Codes came to be and isn't noted in the 1933 article.
Coordinates: 42.057°N, 78.881°W
Quaker Bridge was the population center of the town of Elko. It
was most directly affected by the construction of the Kinzua Dam
and was flooded, destroyed, and all roads leading to it rerouted.
It likely never got to use the ZIP Code that appears to be
assigned to it. The Quaker Bridge post office, which was located
within a landmark "trading post" and operated by the post's owner
at the time of its closure, was closed September 30, 1964.
Coordinates: 42.086°N, 78.803°W
Red House is the town that contains the vast majority of Allegany
State Park. The expansion of the park, along with the construction
of the Southern Tier Expressway, gave New York a reason to force
the residents out, one by one, coincidentally beginning the same
time the Kinzua Dam was built. 38 residents remained at the time
of the last census, mostly living on one side road. The Red House
post office was located within Costello's grocery store and closed
June 30, 1964, a few years before the mass evacuation. The remains
of the town are now served by Salamanca mailing addresses.
There are three other ZIP Codes in the Jamestown area (the area
in which codes begin with "147"), which covers southern
Chautauqua, southern and central Cattaraugus and southwestern
Allegany counties. In addition to the ones already listed:
14713 (between Bemus Point and Black Creek). Judging by a 1933
article in the Cattaraugus Republican comparing the county's town
names to others in America using a post office directory, and
assessing county maps from 1840 and 1869, 14713 was not in
Cattaraugus County, as no town alphabetically fitting this one was
14734 (Falconer―Fillmore). This one may have been the hamlet of Farmersville (as opposed to Farmersville Station, which still has a ZIP Code, 14060). Like the Conewango/Conewango Valley situation, the duplicitous name would have been the reason for the post office's closure—but, unlike that situation, no Farmersville post office is listed in the USPS database and I can't verify its existence.
14780 (immediately after Salamanca). I suspect that this have
been a second ZIP Code set aside for the city of Salamanca that
was never used.
Unlike Cattaraugus County, the ZIP Codes for Pennsylvania aren't
quite as clear cut: the gaps are wider, and either the Allegheny
River or the McKean/Warren County line divides ZIP Code regions.
167 is devoted entirely to McKean County, even though it only uses
about 30 of the 100 possible codes. 163 covers Warren County and
some other territory in Pennsylvania. The odd part is that there
are gaps in BOTH regions that fit the towns that were destroyed in
the creation of the Kinzua Dam, and the ones in the 167 section
each have gaps TWO ZIP Codes wide. On the whole, the U.S. Postal
Service has kept post offices for much smaller towns in
Pennsylvania than they have in New York.
Corydon: Before the dam, Corydon was actually two separate
townships, one in McKean County (which still survives but has no
post office) and one in Warren (which no longer exists). Possible
ZIP Codes: 16318, 16722 or 16723. One of these (if any, 16318 is
the most likely candidate, as it is further west) might also be
Cornplanter, a Seneca community that was on the west bank of the
Kinzua: this town was south of Corydon on the east bank of the
Allegheny. Possible ZIP Codes include 16330, 16736 or 16737.
Post offices were an early way of marking populated places, long
before villages were incorporated. Most population centers in the
county got their post offices before 1840.
Looking at some old county maps reveals a few post offices for
areas that are no longer populated. There is also one for the
Mansfield-Eddyville post office; it appears on 19th century maps
but by 1910 the name Eddyville appears to have been assigned to an
area in Ulster County, New York (since subsumed into the city of
Kingston); the 1933 article calls it Mansfield again. Post offices
for Napoli and New Albion, which both still exist but no longer
have offices, can also be found, even though they're not listed on
the Postal Service site. New Albion's name is mentioned in the
1933 article; Napoli's is not.
There also appear to be quite a few ZIP Codes in danger of
discontinuation. Leon, NY (14751) had its post office closed in
2010. Otto (14766), Kill Buck (14748), Conewango Valley (14726)
and Steamburg (14783) lost their postmasters in the early 2010s
and are now being managed by other towns' postmasters.
Source: U.S. Postal
Service Postmaster Finder: Post Offices by ZIP Code
Information on the Red House, Onoville and Quaker Bridge post offices was confirmed by articles in the Bradford Era ("Post Offices to Close," April 22, 1964) and the Salamanca Republican-Press ("Final Check-Out," July 1, 1964).
See also: The Full Listing of ZIP Codes
and Telephone Exchanges in Cattaraugus County
This list was compiled by J. Myrle Fuller and Fullervision Enterprises