The Lost ZIP Codes of Cattaraugus County

Introduction

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 each).

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.

Conewango, NY 14725

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.

Ischua, NY 14746

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.

Knapp Creek, NY 14749

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.

Onoville, NY 14764

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. It is served by the Frewsburg post office.

Persia, NY 14768

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 "Only 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 1869.

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.

Quaker Bridge, NY 14771

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.

Red House, NY 14773

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. Red House is now served by Salamanca mailing addresses.

Others

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 listed.

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.

Bonus: More lost ZIP Codes from the Kinzua Dam

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 Allegheny.

Kinzua: this town was south of Corydon on the east bank of the Allegheny. Possible ZIP Codes include 16330, 16736 or 16737.

Closing notes

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

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