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 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
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, 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, 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.
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
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. The remaining residents managed to halt the eviction process in 1973; 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.
As with other cities, Salamanca likely was assigned multiple
ZIP Codes. It also happened to have two post offices, as prior
to 1913, Salamanca and West Salamanca were separate
municipalities. I don’t have any concrete information as to when
the West Salamanca post office closed. (Editor’s note: the
coordinates given are somewhat further south than the West
Salamanca post office likely was. The coordinates point to
Shongo, a hamlet south of West Salamanca. Between the two is
Jimersontown, the area where most Kinzua Dam refugees were
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, that I’ve been unable to definitively locate.
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
14768 (Panama—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.
The ZIP Codes from 14789 to 14799 have never been allocated, as
there were not enough towns. The highest ZIP code in the 147
prefix is Weston Mills, geographically between Olean and
ZIP Codes 14702 through 14705 are unused; they are reserved for
the city of Jamestown. I think 14702 was at one point in use.
These ones aren’t real, but may be of use when filling in
Hall was a location in what is now Allegany State Park during
the town of Red House's (see below) lumber boom where a sawmill
was located. It had its own post office from 1893 to about
1910—which, obviously, was over half a century before ZIP Codes
were established. By 1910, the name "Hall" had been given to the
post office in what had previously been Hall’s Corners, out in
Ontario County. (Coincidentally, its ZIP Code is 14463.) Though
the location has largely been depopulated since Allegany State
Park was established, the former Cattaraugus County hamlet of
Hall happens to be a substantial distance from other post
offices, about halfway between the old Red House office and the
current one in Limestone.
So I took a few liberties. There’s no gap in the H’s to fit Hall, but if Red House’s ZIP Code was going to be 14773, and Limestone’s is 14753, then the one between ought to be 14763. As it so happens, the ZIP Codes between 14761 and 14763 were never used; I presume they were set aside for Olean. So I assigned 14763 to the old hamlet of Hall. Now, because the name Hall is used elsewhere and because 14763 is alphabetically between Olean and Onoville, that's where the On prefix came in, to fit it alphabetically in the list.
Old maps of Cattaraugus County make note of a
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 the Cattaraugus County town
Mansfield again. The ZIP Code Tabulation Area (the areas the
Census Bureau uses to approximate post offices' reaches) for
Little Valley's ZIP Code, 14755, shows an obvious 8 shape,
suggesting that the Mansfield/Eddyville post office territory
was hastily annexed to Little Valley's in fairly recent time.
(The Mansfield, NY post office is not in the USPS database;
attempting to search for it returns a message "NO POST OFFICE BY THIS NAME
HAS BEEN RESEARCHED." It would have had to be closed
before the early 1960s; coincidentally, in the 147 area, Little
Valley and Mansfield were next to each other alphabetically,
thus sharing 14755 for two areas that were adjacent both
geographically and alphabetically—well, it'd be an unorthodox
shortcut but a clever one.
In the ZIP+4 system, locations in the Village of Little Valley have ZIP Codes of 14755-1xxx, while those in Mansfield have 14755-9xxx. I suppose that one could try to shoehorn 14734 in there with creative spelling as "Fddyville" but I don’t recommend that because I suspect the ZIP belonged to another town and I explicitly want to use unused ZIP Codes for fakes to avoid confusion. So I dipped into the tail end of unclaimed ZIP Codes in the 1479x range and combined that with Little Valley's 14755. 14759 is taken by North Clymer (whose office has since closed), so that left 14795.
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.
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. Old maps show post offices
for Napoli and New Albion, which both still exist but no longer
have offices; these defunct offices are not listed on the Postal
Service site. New Albion's name is mentioned in the 1933
article; Napoli's is not. The post office site does list a large
number of post offices for locations that closed decades before
the ZIP Code era: Axeville (east of Conewango, 1839-51); Bowen
(southwest of Randolph, 1891-1907); East Leon/Pleasant Grove
(1830-54); Elm Creek (north of Randolph, 1864-65); Fairview (in
Farmersville,1827-1903); and Pope (between Conewango and
Randolph, 1892-1903). Several post offices are on old 1840
and/or 1869 county maps that are not in the USPS database:
Sociality (southeast part of Dayton), Seelysburgh (in the west
part of Napoli), Hopkins/Elgin (Lyndon), Chelsea/Elton
(southwestern part of Freedom), Ashford Hollow, East Ashford and
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.
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).
This list was compiled by J. Myrle Fuller and Fullervision Enterprises