Women Cross Frozen Lake Afoot to Get Mail

Feb 26, 2014

Homesteaders who staked their claim along the western shore of Upper Klamath Lake often found themselves isolated from society at large for weeks on end – particularly during winter months.

In the early 1900s, long before roads had reached the remote communities of Odessa and Rocky Point, the Postal Service sent mail to homesteaders via steamboats that sailed on the lake.  But as soon as winter ice covered the lake, mail delivery ceased, along with all other contact with the outside world. Two women were among the handful of homesteaders trying to prove-up on their property at Odessa in 1914.  As the winter dragged on, the women grew so desperate for news of their friends and relatives that they set out on foot in mid-February to cross the frozen tide of Upper Klamath Lake. The Evening Herald newspaper reported Mrs. Rose Torrey and Miss Maud Nail walked across the ice for nearly 15 miles to catch the stagecoach at Algoma and ride into Klamath Falls. While in town the ladies petitioned the postal service to find some way to get mail to homesteaders in winter – even if only twice a week.  

 Source: Evening Herald 11 Feb. 1914 [Klamath Falls, Oregon] .