The Tiny Dulzura Post Office

By Todd Ronnei

Dulzura post office

In March 2005 I visited the smallest post office in the United States, located in Ochopee, Florida. That visit was unplanned, and I certainly didn't expect to have a similar experience anytime soon thereafter. But I did.

In April 2005 I made plans to take my family to San Diego. Plenty of kid-friendly activities were on the menu (San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, Legoland), but nothing stamp-related for me. That changed when I read about the tiny Dulzura, California post office in the July 11, 2005 issue of Linn's Stamp News. Since the post office was located southeast of San Diego just near the Mexican border, I made plans to visit it during our August vacation.

inside post office
Postmaster Ken Simon at the window of the Dulzura, Calif. post office. This picture shows just about all of the post office "lobby." Another postal patron stopped by while I was there so I had to step outside, as there wasn't room for two of us inside.
We made the trek on Monday, August 8, traveling south from San Diego on California Highway 94. The two lane highway twists and turns as it climbs the hilly terrain, and after a while with no sign of civilization I wondered if we were on the right track.  But we rounded a curve and suddenly it was in sight.

The Dulzura post office was established in 1887 along the San Diego-Campo stagecoach route. Originally part of a general store, the post office moved into its current circa-1920s building during World War II. The 182-square feet post office is next to the Dulzura Cafe, on land leased from the restaurant owners. The cafe was quiet on a Monday afternoon, having apparently already closed for the day.

One step inside the post office and I was at its only window. I was promptly greeted by Postmaster Ken Simon, who asked how he could help me. I explained the nature of my visit, and PM Simon quickly presented me with a complementary postcard with a sketch of the post office, which I mailed to myself (see below).

"How did you learn about this post office?," Simon asked me. I told him I read about it in Linn's Stamp News. Simon was unaware he had been recently mentioned in Linn's, but he knew of the newspaper. Years earlier he worked for the USPS in Illinois, and had mistakenly sold a number of new stamps before their first day of issue. Linn's reported his transgression, and Simon learned an important lesson in stamp distribution.

Simon was appointed postmaster in May 2005 after Paul Murray, postmaster since 1993, retired in January. Simon had worked occasionally at the Dulzura office over the previous three years, filing in when Murray was away.

The post office is the base for mail delivered to 268 customers in Dulzura and nearby Barrett Junction. An additional 199 customers, many living on rural roads too rugged for mail trucks to travel, pick up their mail from boxes at the post office. 

Postmaster Simon was happy to let us take all the pictures we wanted. Since the post office sits just a few feet off the highway, it was necessary to step into the road to take pictures of the front of the building (like the one below). My wife was concerned she would be in danger standing in the middle of the highway, but Simon jokingly assured her the locals would be considerate enough to honk before hitting her.

outside post office
Here I am outside the Dulzura post office, holding a pane of the American Advances in Aviation stamps I had just purchased. My son Nathan looks on with an expression that asks, "Are we done here?"

postcard front
Postcard of the Dulzura Post Office.

Dulzura handstamp (applied upside down) and a San Diego ink-jet wavy line postmark cancel the Wilma Rudolph postcard rate stamp.
postcard back