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
Although Conewango Valley, a hamlet listed as being just west of the Conewango town line in Chautauqua County, has a ZIP Code listed in the USPS database, the town of Conewango itself is not. Its post office closed April 24, 1964, shortly after the ZIP Code system was introduced.
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. It is served by the Frewsburg post office.
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.
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.
There are four 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, 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
14768 (Panama―Portland). Off the top of my head, the most likely
place I can think of is Poland Center, a Chautauqua County town
west of Kennedy.
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.
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