The Elbe post office, shown here in 1956, had a long history. The following is taken from Postmarked Washington: Pierce County.
Established: June 4, 1892, Cyrus H. Thompson; Adam Sachs, December 17, 1892; Mrs. Serena B. Sachs (nee Marshall, Mrs. Adam Sachs), July 8, 1898; Adam Sachs, February 2, 1903; Mrs. Serena B. Sachs, March 30, 1921; Mrs. Olma M. Douglas-Aleshire, August 11, 1921; Mrs. Serena B. Sachs, October 1, 1923; Mrs. Bertha M. Whitney (nee Montague, Mrs. Dayton Whitney), March 4, 1924; Mrs. Pearl E. Engel (nee Edwards, Mrs. Levi E. Engel), May 16, 1937; Mrs. M. June Kast (nee Mills, Mrs. Floyd J. Kast(, June 1, 1952; Katherine Wittner, October 12, 1974; Darlene M. Hape, April 26, 1975.
Location: On Milwaukee Railroad 5 miles southeast of Alder, 4 miles north of Mineral, 16 miles north of Morton, 7 miles west of Ashford on Nisqually River (SW Section 21, T15N, R5E).
The first mail to Elbe was brought by horseback from the now discontinued Meta post office. There was no road so the carrier just picked his way over the crude trail in what was then a deep forest. When the Meta post office was closed (December 29, 1897) a carrier brought Elbe’s mail from Lakepark. Later a puncheon road was built. Settlers put boxes in places where the carrier could handily reach them from horseback.
The Milwaukee Railroad was built in 1940, as was the road which followed approximately the route of State Highway 5. (The railroad was originally the Tacoma Eastern Railroad). Consequently, until passenger trains ceased to run southward on June 30, 1928, Elbe enjoyed railway mail service. During the railroad construction days in 1898 Elbe had dispatched mail through Mineral on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday after mail had come from Lakepark, unless the Lakepark carrier was later than 9 PM in arriving. It took 1.5 hours to cover the distance of four miles to Mineral. The return trip was made on the same days staring about 5:30 PM. This schedule was modified during the period September 1 to April 30 to service from 11 AM to 12:30 PM on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Starting on May 1, 1928, a Tacoma-Morton Star Route supplied mail service to Elbe.
Adam Saches had a small log store building in the rear of which the family lived, but as his business increased he built a larger store. That burned in 1914 and was rebuilt. Following that the post office was quartered in still another store before being transferred in April 1949 to a small structure which faced the highway.
Elbe post office advanced to Third Class on July 1, 1949.
Adam Sachs caught “gold fever” and went to Alaska leaving the post office and store to his wife’s care. She had previously taught in the Seattle schools. Mrs. Pearl E. Engle had also taught school in Elbe. Her husband was a blacksmith who built buggiest and stages. Some of his stages operated on mail routes between Spanaway and Longmire. Mrs. Engle had much to do with assembling historical information in a two-volume mimeographed book entitled History of Tacoma Eastern Area (1954). To that publication we are indebted for the biography of Mrs. and Mrs. Sachs.
Adam Sachs came to Washington in the 1880s form South Dakota and bought a grocery store in Latona, King County. In 1891 he met Serena Marshall, the local schoolteacher, and they were wed and moved to Elbe shortly thereafter. Adam freighted in most of the merchandise needed for their store. He even brought machinery for a sawmill over the Mashell Mountain road and started the first sawmill and logging operation. He had an interest in a Tacoma-Morton bus line. It was while attending a meeting of the bus company’s officials in Tacoma that he dropped ear in March 1920.
On the night of September 13, 1950, Elbe post office was broken into and burglarized. The guilty parties were never apprehended.
Elbe is the German name given by German settlers to honor the Elbe River of their homeland.
Photo courtesy of the Baublits family and taken by Joe Larin.
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