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

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.

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.

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 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 existence.

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