1903 Store & Post Office

1903 Store & Post Office
1903 Store & Post Office

The first Maple Valley Post Office was established May 22, 1882 under the name Arthur. Charles O. Russell was its Postmaster with the office in his home. In 1885, after the Columbia & Puget Sound Railroad came through the area on its way to the coal fields of Black Diamond and Franklin, the post office was renamed Maple Valley and moved closer to the railroad. The second postmaster, Mrs. Emirgene McDonald built the general store (the building to the right) in 1891 and selling it to William D. Gibbon that same year. Gibbon was of Welsh heritage, had worked as a coal miner in Pennsylvania, then followed his father to Black Diamond where he obtained a position in the general store of that coal mining town. He took up a homestead on Lake Sawyer and partnered with Axel Hanson in taking over Mrs. McDonald’s first Maple Valley store. In 1894 Gibbon added the post office building on the left, and used it as part of his general store, turning the original structure on the right into a creamery. At the time of this 1903 photo the buildings were located in what is now the parking lot of the Testy Chef. In 1906 the store and post office building was moved across what is now S.R. 169 to the current location of the Maple Valley Market. That post office location was later moved back across the highway into the old Maple Valley Hotel, since torn down. In 1952, it was moved yet again into a new building, next door to the old hotel, as a combined post office and fire station. That 3-bay, 2-story building still stands today (next to the Testy Chef) and is used as a commercial rental. A new post office was constructed on the Dorre Don Road in 1959 and operated there until 1986 when the present post office location on Wax Road was established. The several people who’ve been identified in the photo are (L-R): unknown, W.D. Gibbon, Elizabeth (Jones) Gibbon, Chester Gibbon (the child), Mrs. Thomas G. Spaight (Gibbon’s sister), with the others unidentified. William D. Gibbon was Maple Valley’s Postmaster for nearly 30 years. This photo and research for this column comes courtesy of the Maple Valley Historical Society.