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Possible closure endangers unique postal stamp July 31, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Towns.
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Last week, we reported that more than a dozen towns along Route 66 may see their post offices closed as a cost-cutting move. That list included the western Arizona town of Oatman.

But here’s a unique angle from the Mohave Daily News on the possible closure of the Oatman post office:

While nearly all post offices across the United States typically machine-stamp their cancellation marks, Oatman is one of only a handful in the country that still cancels its mail by hand, using a special canceling stamp complete with an image of a miner and burro.

“It was made special for Oatman,” Whidden said. “Very few hand-stamp them anymore, and a lot of tourists know about it and come here specifically to get it.”

Glen Boyd of Roanoke, Ala., was one of those tourists who dropped by the Oatman post office Friday afternoon to mail some postcards he had picked up in town. Boyd said he had “absolutely” come into the post office to get the special cancellation stamp, adding that he was no stranger to the novelty behind the concept.

“I once worked near a town called Bethlehem, in Georgia, and it was really important for people to get their Christmas cards postmarked there,” Boyd said. “I think it’s a very important aspect of tourism. It’s an important part of Americana, and it deserves to be preserved.”

I greatly appreciate the unique stamp that Oatman uses, and hope it continues.

However, I have to strongly disagree with a resident who says that closure of the post office would be “devastating” to the town.

An estimated 500,000 people visit Oatman each year, and the huge majority of them go to see the semi-wild burros, the town’s Old West atmosphere, the historic Oatman Hotel, the nearby gold mine, etc.

The postmaster admits that she, at most, gets “several hundred” customers per week. It’s safe to say that Oatman’s post office doesn’t rank high in its tourism machine. Closure of the facility won’t cause the town to dry up and blow away.

And, according to one postal worker, it seems likely that one of the local Oatman businesses will take up much of the post office’s duties, including that unique stamp.

Oatman should know after December whether its post office will close.

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