Longest Mail Route in America

Hometown Heroes, People
on April 7, 2002

Every weekday morning, Tom Currier arrives at the post office, sorts the mail into eight bundles, and heads out in his pickup truck through the wheat and cow country of north-central Oklahoma on the longest rural mail route in America.

“It’s not the most beautiful place in the world,” he says. “It’s kinda flat. But I wouldn’t trade this route for anything.”

At 62, Currier knows the roads like the faces of his children—all 238 miles of dirt, clay, rock, and asphalt on his trip through Deer Creek (pop. 147) and Lamont (pop. 465). The drive gives him a chance to think about life: his own, and those of his patrons, most of whom he knows personally.

He once drove a shorter route out of Lamont, but when two other carriers left or retired, he was happy for the extra hours and combined all three routes into the one. Currier now delivers mail five days a week (another carrier does Saturdays), from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., rain or shine, winter or summer.

A flood is the only thing that ever stopped Currier from his appointed rounds since he began in the mid-1980s.

“It’s a point of pride with me,” he explains. “Except for a day or two when the Salt Fork has flooded real bad, people have always gotten their mail.”

Born in nearby Deer Creek, Currier attended local schools and married a Ponca City woman. He and his wife, Joyce, have been married for 40 years, and their three grown children—two daughters and a son—all live within 100 miles of each other.

“It’s remarkable how people’s lives change,” he observes. “I realize I’m delivering graduation cards, and I can’t believe some kid is old enough for that.”

Currier knows just which piece of mail or periodical will bring a smile. “The Enid Morning News covers lots of area, and people want to read about their neighbors,” he says. “Especially the obituaries.”

He also knows his patrons and is a daily part of their lives.

When an elderly woman failed to pick up her mail for a few days, Currier knocked on her door. Hearing faint cries from the back, he called authorities on his cell phone. Frail, dehydrated, and nearly frantic, the woman had fallen into a closet and could not get out.

Animals and children provide a steady source of amusement, sometimes at his expense. “One time, two little girls put their cat in the mailbox,” he recalls. “I pulled up one day, and the cat jumped out of the box and hit the side of the pickup. Like to scared me to death.”

Both Currier and the cat were unharmed, if somewhat shaken. He keeps cookies and candy on hand to share with the children and regrets that he must refuse their requests for a ride. “Against postal regulations,” he explains.

He remembers encountering only one dangerous animal, a large dog that came at him from around the side of a house as he stood on the porch. Currier was able to grab a broom and hold the dog at bay while he backed out of the yard. A guinea hen at another address might have been a problem if she had been a little bigger. “She’d plump her feathers up and come running right at the truck,” he says. “She didn’t like that truck.”

For the most part, Currier’s relations with flesh and fowl are positive, especially the two-legged kind. He’s the grateful recipient of baked goods, cantaloupe, watermelon, and all kinds of goodies during the Christmas season.

Jennie Lee Smith and her husband, Amos, grow wheat and milo and raise cattle on their 500-acre farm on Currier’s route. They appreciate their postman.

“I don’t know what it is about getting mail,” she says, “but out here, we sure look forward to seeing Tom’s truck drive up.”