|Former PO in St. Andrews, WA (photo by Panoramio user Chris Metz)|
You can explore the rise and fall of rural post offices in the Northwest online. Maps of postal routes were common. For example, compare this 1897 map (at the Washington State Library) and this 1905 map (at Washington State University). Let's zoom in on a section of rural eastern Washington:
|This 1897 map show the prevalence of POs in some of tiny hamlets of the Columbia Plateau.|
|Just 8 years later in 1905 some of the locations have changed.|
By the mid-20th century the population of places like Withrow and Mansfield began to decline, and for the most part has declined ever since. Only a handful are open today--and soon there will be even fewer.