Hat Creek Post Office closes as a result of new contract
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
The Hat Creek Post Office was closed on Oct. 10, as a result of a new mail contract that was let by the Post Office Department. Settlers around here and the ranchers and cowboys along Lance Creek and Cheyenne River areas are very much perturbed by this disruption of their mail service.
Some of the postal patrons here were already riding up to 50 miles for their mail, now they must go an additional; 30 miles to the Rawhide Buttes’ station. This inconvenience has prompted them to circulate and sign petitions that have been forwarded to Governor Hoyt and to Delegate Corlett, urging that mail service be reestablished in this area.
This situation came about when the special contract from the Post Office Department that established the Cheyenne to Deadwood mail route expired Oct. 1. New bids were then called for and the contract was awarded to John E. Kemp at $16,000 per annum.
Kemp soon found that he could not carry the mail at this price. He then made a statement to the Post Office to the effect that they could save $2,000 and still serve Cheyenne and Deadwood as well, by having the route changed from Cheyenne to Horse Head, Dakota Territory. There it could connect with the Sidney to Deadwood Stage Line.
On his presentation the department curtailed the route. Since it was not a profitable contract, Kemp sublet it to the owners of the Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage Line. Luke Voorhees, superintendent of the line, had already been planning a change in the route to avoid the hilly, muddy country via Jenny Stockade.
The new stations and road were completed with all possible haste, to have the mail carried over the newly designated route by way of Horse head, a few miles south of Buffalo Gap, D.T.
The first mail went over the new route on the morning of Oct. 10. The route left the old line at Rawhide Buttes and headed northeastward for 55 miles where a confluence was made with the Sidney line at Horse Head Station. From there north to Deadwood the runs is made with a six-horse coach.
This new route avoids most of the travel through the hills. Most of it now passes over fairly level country. Many passengers are pleased with the change because the ride is not so rough as it was especially north of Jenny Stockade. Many women and children have boarded the coaches at the “Magic City of the Plains” this autumn to join their husbands and fathers in the Black Hills. Civilization is definitely on the march.
(Note: Mail service was soon reestablished at Hat Creek with Ernest A. Logan carrying it from Rawhide Buttes. Sometimes he drives the route in a buckboard, part of the time he went horseback.)
(Information source: “The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Routes,” By Agnes Wright Spring.)