Leadville: Home to the 80461
Postal News from America’s Highest City
When it comes to good, old 80461, the Leadville Post Office is so much more than just a federal organization which delivers letters and packages. Many times, the local PO can provide insight into what’s really happening on historic Harrison Avenue, from population fluctuations to the number of new businesses to consumer spending patterns.
Postal numbers are often used in coordinating census data. The federal government also uses those numbers in their determinations for highway and infrastructure funding, since they want their efforts to bring the maximum results to the maximum number of tax-paying residents. The legal addresses of registered voters also help in the creation of political districts, impacting how Lake County’s interests are represented at the State Capitol and in Washington, DC.
The internet may have lightened the load from your post box through online bill pay and the demise of many printed catalogs and magazines, but having a mailing address is still important in Leadville Today (LT).
So earlier this month when United State Postal employees made an impassioned plea regarding the future of the organization (see below), LT saw the news as an opportunity to check in with 80461’s Postmaster Greg Sandoval and see what’s new, especially in light of all the recent “Leadville Boom” buzz. Have postal carriers seen an increase in mail delivery? Has the 80461 staff expanded? Have new routes been added?
Come along as LT delivers the answers to your burning mail questions, as well as some fun and interesting facts about your favorite letter carriers!
“I can tell you that we are experiencing a lot of growth, but not as much as I would have thought,” said Leadville Postmaster Greg Sandoval in an interview with Leadville Today. “Many new houses are second homes, and there are now many short term rentals. These second homes and short term rentals are not setting up mail delivery so that is why I am not seeing as much impact as I would have thought.”
The Leadville office covers the city boundaries as well as surrounding subdivisions, including all those along County Road 4. Their area also includes two Highway Contract Routes (HCR) which push delivery out as far as the Webster’s Gravel pit toward Tennessee Pass, as high as Fremont Pass out along Highway 91, and stretching south past Moose Haven Condos on Highway 24. Of course 80461 shares Lake County with two other zip codes: Twin Lakes 81251 and Climax 80429
“Our Leadville office has grown from a Level 18 to a Level 18B, but we are still not authorized for any more staffing,” stated Sandoval, adding that with the new (planned) developments, he expected that the 80461 office will be upgraded to a level 20, allowing for more staff.
Currently, in addition to the postmaster, Leadville operates with 2 full-time clerks, 1 part-time clerk, 3 full-time carriers, and 3 part-time carriers to help on heavy days, and cover days off. They have two HCRs which employ 5 part-time carriers. The office also employs 1 part-time custodian. Sandoval also noted that the Leadville PO has not had any trouble staying staffed, but because it is a federal business, they do drug testing. So, as he put it “what is legal in Colorado isn’t legal on the Federal level.”
While Leadville’s Postmaster was not at liberty to give out exact numbers of postal customers, an informal inquiry with regular bulk mail users did not indicate a sizeable jump in distribution costs which could be explained by the second homeowner/vacation rental variable.
Another shift that rural America has been experiencing is the death of the mailbox. In fact, Sandoval reported that the new (planned) subdivisions will be required to install Community Mail Boxes, and not have door-to-door delivery, a 21st-century living trend.
But for one of the most interesting stories regarding the Leadville Post Office and its significance to the local community, look into the 19th-century archives of this mountain town.
It was the spring of 1877 and the newly established mining camp was busting at the seams with every kind of high-hopes miner imaginable, along with all the supporting services necessary to keep the industry alive. Leadville was experiencing its first true Boom!
One of the things that helped maintain civility was news from back home and the loved ones left behind in the pursuit of good fortune. It was determined that a formal post office needed to be established, so a small group met in a quaint cabin on the corner of Chestnut and Pine Streets. Businessmen George Henderson, August Meyer, and Alvinus Wood were joined by Miss Lottie Williams, an Oro City schoolmarm, who from all accounts was the voice of reason when it came to deciding on a name for the new post office. And while there are some that say the name “Leadville” has its own share of 21st-century branding challenges, it could have been worse. It could have been “Slabtown”
On July 16, 1877, nearly six months prior to the establishment of the city, the United States Postal Service officially approved the application for a new post office at Leadville, County of Lake, State of Colorado. And with Henderson’s signature, he also became the first postmaster for Leadville. But that was a baton he would quickly pass off to his business partner HAW Tabor, who served in the position for only 10 months once his political aspirations were ignited after securing his next significant position: the first Mayor of Leadville. You can search all the Postmasters in Leadville’s history on this list which includes Climax and Oro City.
It’s worth noting that when Leadville’s founding fathers gathered six months later in January 1878, they could very well have selected a different name when establishing America’s Highest City. But after much lively debate and banter, calmer heads prevailed and they voted to give the new city the name from the official post office documents and Leadville was born! The PO is powerful, and so, it seems is a schoolmarm named Miss Lottie Williams!
One thing that has fluctuated over the years has been 80461’s reigning status as the highest post office. For many years, Climax 80429 was the highest post office in the United States. When they closed their office, Leadville was known as the highest in the US, but then the town of Alma challenged the designation and they are now listed as the highest at 10,578 feet! However, Alma is a remote office, meaning they are only open part-time and are managed from another site. Many searches still show Leadville as the reigning, high-altitude champion.
“I still say we are the highest regular post office,” boasts Sandoval. Now that’s some good news to be delivered. Keep up the good work! And be sure to say thank you to your hard-working 80461 staff in Leadville Today!
Postal Workers Deliver Urgent Message
The American Postal Workers Union wants to make two things perfectly clear:
- It’s a myth that the U.S. Postal Service relies on tax dollars for its operations.
- The threat of the White House selling off the United States Postal Service to private interests, leading to higher cost and less service for postal customers, is real.
Postal service employees want to make it clear that USPS takes NO tax dollars. A common misconception is that the postal service is tax-supported.
Postal workers also are sounding an alarm and are pushing back against a proposal – announced last June by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) – to privatize the U.S. Postal Service. The OMB report was followed in December by a “task force” report with similar recommendations, including the idea of “franchising,” where the government would sell access to your personal mailbox to third parties. A Senate hearing on the White House’s recommendations was held last month.
The White House’s blueprint to “reform” government services makes a series of false charges. It implies that USPS uses tax dollars for its operations, which it doesn’t, and – with no evidence – the White House also claims that the USPS “can no longer support” the current universal service requirement of daily mail delivery, six days a week, to 157 million U.S. addresses.
Left unsaid is that any selloff would lead to both higher prices and service cutbacks for customers. When the United Kingdom privatized postal services, for example, rates rose 80 percent and many post office branches were closed.
“Our message to the public is quite simple. ‘The United States Postal Service — Keep it. It’s yours!’ Don’t sell this national treasure to private interests that will charge more for less service,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “A public postal service is important, especially in this era of ecommerce. We cannot leave rural communities and inner-cities isolated, senior citizens stranded and many businesses without a reliable means of reaching their customers.”
Right now, only you and your letter carrier have access to your mailbox. Letting others into your mailbox also allows third parties an opportunity to take things away. This could be a threat to the security of vote-by-mail, and the privacy and security needed for government correspondence, medical bills, financial documents, and other important mail.
Many members of Congress along with religious and civic groups oppose postal privatization. The public Post Office enjoys a high level of approval from its customers. According to a Pew Research Center poll, the Post Office gets the highest ratings of any major government agency, with 88 percent of Americans expressing satisfaction.
The American Postal Workers Union represents 200,000 employees of the United States Postal Service and is affiliated with the AFL-CIO. For more information on APWU, visit www.apwu.org.
APWU has produced a humorous new commercial that reminds the public that the postal service is supported by postage and charges for package delivery and not tax dollars, called “We Deliver Almost Anything” Watch it here.