Article by: Peggy A. Rowe-Snyder
Well, the lastest edition of the Umpqua Trapper is at the printer. It is part two of our last edition which explored post offices that no longer exist.
While researching it, I (Peggy, one of the editors, and webmaster here) remembered seeing old time p.o. boxes at a general store in Azalea. So I drove down there to see if the folks there would let me take a photo. The lady there very kindly, let me take a lot of photos. Azalea, of course, still has a post office. But, Azalea was also once called Booth, and Starvout. Neither of those two exist. With this knowledge, I justified my trip to Azalea!
It is an amazing journey, you step back into time the moment you leave your vehicle and step onto the general store’s wooden sidewalks. Open the door to look in the walls and shelves are lined with antiques. There is even an old gas pump in there! Old photos, old signs, license plates, and yes, post office memorabilia! It’s a trip, you’ll never forget.
So, if you are driving down I-5 and going through Azalea think about stopping in and saying hi! Let them know that you read about them here. Give them a little business because without their permission these photos simply would not be here. They were very generous!
On the rest of this post you’ll find more photos I took along with any information that I could dig up on any of what I saw there.
Here’s a little information from the 6th Edition of Oregon Geographical Names by Lewis McArthur on Azalea, “Douglas County is noted for its azaleas and this post office was named on account of their abundance in that locality. There are two well-known members of the Ericaceae of this type in Oregon, the Azalea occidentalis or western azalea, and Azaleastrum albiflorum, or small white. the name Azalea has been used for post offices in Douglas County at two separate times and places, and the post offices Starvout, Booth, and Azalea have at different times all served more or less the same territory in upper Cow Creek Valley. Starvout post office was established Feb. 18, 1888, with H. L. Miser postmaster. The name of the place was changed to Booth on Aug. 24, 1907, probably because the name Starvout was suggestive of an unsatisfactory locality. The name of Booth post office was changed to Azalea on May 6, 1914. In the meantime, there had been another Azalea post office which was established Oct. 7, 1899, with Joseph A. Wharton first postmaster. This post office was discontinued Sept. 30, 1909. The postmaster at Azalea in 1925 told the writer that Mrs. Maggie Picket suggested the present name of Azalea for the former Booth post office. The writer does not know who suggested the name of the original Azalea post office, which is shown on the 1900 postal map at a point on Cow Creek about ten miles southwest of Riddle.” (note, that puts the post office about two miles east of where Peck was.)
The lady at the Azalea General Store let me take pictures of pictures. You’ll see that this building was also known as Azalea Hotel, Cow Creek Cafe, Cow Creek Pass, etc. She did not know the time frame of just when the p.o. boxes were used but she said they were the originals that came with the building and she even showed me the window where people could ask for their mail, pay postage, etc. While peeking around I noticed that there were still folks names on the backs of the boxes.
(Please note: You can click on these images to get a bigger image!)