Garfield/Magna Post Offices


The histories of the Garfield and Magna post offices are intertwined given their proximity to one another. Their histories begin in the area currently covered with mine tailings and locally known as the “Point of West Mountains.” In the 1850s when the area was first settled, news would be delivered by travelers passing through or by the Overland Stage that would drop off an occasional letter. With the establishment of the Utah Western Railroad, a mail bag would be thrown off the train at a designated location (Riter Crossing) and the local children would retrieve the bag. In 1888, Alexander Adamson petitioned the postal service to allow that he set up a post office in his home. His petition was granted, and he was commissioned on January 16, 1889. A teenager named David Reid Jr. would pick up the mail dropped by the railroad and deliver it to Adamson. He preformed this duty until the next postmaster, Samuel George Spencer took over on December 23, 1902. Although the location of the new post office (Spencer’s home) was in Pleasant Green (now Magna), the post office was still known as Riter Crossing, most likely because the mail was still being dropped off by the railroad (Pehrson 1983a). 

In 1903, Spencer sold home, store, and post office to Robert H. Hodge who was commissioned postmaster on September 15, 1904, and remained so until March 15, 1907, when James Mackey was commissioned new postmaster. The location of the post office during Hodge’s and Mackey’s tenures is unknown. Mackey served until January 3, 1908. With the departure of Mackey, the Riter post office (Pleasant Green) was dissolved and the mail was sent to the Garfield post office until 1914 (Pehrson 1983a).

A rural delivery service was created at Garfield to specifically take care of the needs of the settlers in Pleasant Green. The first rural carrier was Charles C. Nielson who traveled the route from Garfield to 7200 West by horse and cart and continued this route for three years until he resigned in 1910. With the resignation of Nielson, Pleasant Green once again lost their postal service (Pehrson 1983b).

In 1914, Ranald M. Woolley applied for and received a commission to establish a post office in Pleasant Green. His commission was granted on December 22, 1914. The post office operated as the Pleasant Green post office instead of the earlier Riter Crossing. Exasperated by the continual mixing up of mail with towns of similar names, such as Mount Pleasant, Pleasant Grove, and Pleasant View, Woolley campaigned to change the name of the town to Magma, after the nearby Utah Cooper Company Magna Concentrator. Votes were in favor of a name change and the Postmaster General officially approved the name change on October 19, 1915. The post office was operated out of Woolley’s confectionary store. In 1918, Woolley sold his store and the post office to Ephraim G. and Emma Maw, the parents of the future Utah governor Herbert B. Maw (Pehrson 1983b; Woolley nd.). Ephraim Maw became the acting postmaster on August 1, 1918. The post office was moved to the southeast corner of 9150 West 2700 south. In 1950, the post office was moved to 9014 West 2700 South (Magna Main Street) which is now TransWest Credit Union (Pehrson 1983b; Google Earth 2021). In 1966, it was moved to 8578 West 2700 (Magna Main Street), the former location of the Samuel Spencer’s home post office, the second postmaster of Magna (Pleasant Green). The post office was still operating at this location in 1983 (Pehrson 1983b). This location is now a First Congregational Christian Church of Samoa in Utah. The current post office is a short distance to the east at 8470 West Magna Main Street (2700 West) (Google Earth 2021). 

Garfield was a company town, owned by Utah Copper and the American Smelting and Refining Company. The first postmaster at the Garfield post office was Robert B. Quay who received his commission on December 7, 1905. The last postmistress was Theresa R. Taylor, who was commissioned on May 13, 1934, and remained until the town was phased out in September 1957 (Pehrson, 1983b).

Following the Great Depression, the Garfield post office saw a higher volume of incoming and outgoing mail and money orders, especially during the peak holiday season, which was a result of “higher copper prices and better business conditions.” (The Magna Times [MT], 8 January 1937:1) During the Second World War, holiday business remained steady within the community. Postmasters credited the increases due to the improved general business conditions and average households having more money to spend (The Salt Lake Tribune [SLT], 13 January 1941:10). Staying consistent with the previous years, “according to local merchants…incoming and outgoing mail was one of the largest in the history of these institutions…express shipments and receipts were also high. Good copper prices and better business conditions have made the improvements noted in the Christmas trade” (MT, 26 December 1941:1). Post-WWII, the Garfield post office continued to have consistent business (MT, 13 September 1946:1).

Garfield Post Office, looking southwest (Logan Simpson, 9 March 2021).

The new Garfield post office hosted programs for local students, supplying them with “School Savings Stamps and albums.” Postmistress Theresa R. Taylor mentioned in The Magna Times that the 1951 drive added 5,185 new school savings programs throughout the country which resulted in millions of children saving nickels and dimes (MT, 24 October 1952:4). The Postal and Treasury Savings Stamp Systems and their associated stamps and booklets played an important role in the United States history during the 20th century, especially during both World Wars (Charles 2008). The savings stamp systems were significant to the war efforts, and they allowed everyone in the country, despite their demographics, to save and contribute to the war effort (Charles 2008). These systems were in existence from 1911 through 1970. The Post and Treasury Savings Account System was officially abolished in 1966, but the sale of savings stamps for bond purchases continued until 1970 (Charles 2008).

Examples of Stamps and Cards Used in the Postal and Treasury Savings Stamp System (Charles 2008).

A close-up of a currency noteDescription automatically generated with low confidence
WWI $5 certificate (WS4) payable in full 1924 (Photographs Miller’s 2022)

1936 blue postal savings stamp (PS6) used toward purchase of $1 certificate (Photographs Miller’s 2022)
A close-up of a currency billDescription automatically generated with low confidence
1920 Treasury Savings Stamp (TS1) (Photographs Miller’s 2022)

A close-up of some moneyDescription automatically generated with medium confidence
1942 Minuteman War Stamps L (WS12) R (WS13) (Photographs Miller’s 2022)

The Garfield post office participated in the implementation of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (McCarran-Walter Act) which upheld the controversial 1924 Immigration Act (Johnson-Reed Act) (Office of the Historian 2016a) which reduced the previously established quotas on the number of immigrants that could enter the United States and excluded Asian populations entirely. Additional finagling ensured that the number visa issued to people from the British Isles and Western Europe increased, while those in other areas was greatly restricted (Office of the Historian 2016b). 

The 1952 Act further reduced the immigration quotas and once again, countries in the Western Hemisphere were exempt from the quota system. The prohibition against Asians was lifted, but the regulations were so strict that few Asians entered the United States. The lifting of the prohibition was nothing more than a symbolic gesture, but at least it served as a small step in soothing the anger felt by Asian countries toward the United States. President Truman thought the new law was discriminatory and attempted to veto it, but the law had adequate support from Congress to pass over his veto (Office of the Historian 2016a). The Act required aliens residing in the United States on January 1, 1953, to report their current address through the postal service to the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization within the month of January 1953 (Garfield Leader [GL], 26 December 1952:1).

On December 1, 1955, it was announced that the Kennecott Copper Corporation sold the townsite of Garfield for “an estimated $5 million package deal.” The deal included the property owned by the Utah Copper Division which consisted of residential housing units, land, and community facilities at Copperton, Garfield, and those adjacent to the Magna and Arthur mills (Deseret News [DN] 15 December 1955:1) Kennecott Copper Corp. sold the townsite, including the 394 homes and scattered business buildings, to John W. Galbreath & Co., a realtor from Columbus, Ohio (DN 15 December 1955:1). Many residents purchased either the homes they lived in or others and moved them to various sites within the general area (MT, 10 January 1958:1). This decision left many residents, including Postmistress Theresa R. Taylor, to wonder what would become of the new Garfield post office. Despite the townsite being sold, the post office continued to be in service in the following years leading up to its closure in 1957 when postal officials said a study showed that most of the town residents were leaving and that Postmistress Theresa R. Taylor was eligible for retirement; therefore, the post office operation would likely be discontinued (SLT, 23 July 1957:8). The post office officially closed on September 6, 1957, after 50 years of service and the mail in the area was planned to be routed through the Magna Post Office (DN, 27 August 1957:14). The post office was later used as office space by Kennecott Copper, and it was also used as a space for jobseekers to obtain job applications for the Utah Copper Division of Kennecott (The Ogden Standard-Examiner [OSE],11 January 1977:9).

Garfield/Magna Post Offices
Garfield/Magna Post Offices


Deseret News (DN)

  1955 Kennecott Sells Its Houses in Utah, West for $5 Million. 15 December:1. Salt Lake City, Utah.

  1957 Last of Garfield- Post Office to Close Sept 6. 27 August:14. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Garfield Leader (GL)

  1952 Alien Registration Required at Local Post Office Sites. 26 December:1. Garfield, Utah.

Magna Times, The (MT)

  1937 Holiday Business Best for Years in Magna, Garfield. 8 January:1. Magna, Utah.

  1946 Posts Cards, Parcels May Go to Japan. 13 September:1. Magna, Utah.

  1950 Garfield Postoffice Advanced to 2nd Class. 11 August:1. Magna, Utah.

  1950 Plans Announced for New Garfield Postoffice Bldg. 17 November:1. Magna, Utah

  1952 School Students May Obtain Savings Stamps at Local Postoffices. 24 October:4. Magna, Utah.

  1958 Passing of a Landmark. 10 January:1. Magna, Utah.

Office of the Historian

2016a The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (The McCarran-Walter Act). Milestones 1945-1952. Electronic document, accessed November 3, 2022.

2016b The Immigration Act of 1924 (The Johnson-Reed Act). Milestones 1921-1936. Electronic document, accessed November 3, 2022.

Ogden Standard-Examiner, The (OSE) 

  1977 Over 900 Jobseekers Stand in Cold for Hours. 11 January:9. Ogden, Utah.

Pehrson, LaRee

  1983a The Post Office Saga. West Valley View: The Green Sheet 26 May:15. Salt Lake City, Utah

  1983b And, when Magna Came to be “Magna.” West Valley View: Green Sheet 9 June:19. Salt Lake City, Utah

  1951 New Post Office Building Opens in Garfield Area. 2 October:12. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Salt Lake Tribune, The (SLT)

  1941 Postal Volume Booms in County Towns. 13 January:10. Salt Lake City, Utah.

  1957 To Close Post Office. 23 July:8. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Woolley, Joseph F.

Nd My Father-Ranald Mills Woolley. Family Search, electronic document, accessed November 2, 2022.