Renton Beginnings: Black River Post Office opens on January 21, 1867.

  • By Greg Lange and Eleanor Boba
  • Posted 12/06/1998
  • Essay 421
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On January 21, 1867, the Black River Post Office is established, the same day the Slaughter (renamed Auburn) and White River Post Offices open. Christian C. Clymer (?-1879/80), an early settler on the Black River, is the first postmaster and operates the post office from his house. The town name, and that of the post office, will officially change to Renton, Washington Territory, in 1876. 

Mail via Horseback

Renton is located at the south end of Lake Washington about 12 miles from Seattle. It was located near extensive coal mines and became a center of dairy farming and orchards.

In his History of King County, Clarence Bagley (1843-1932) relates carrying the mail on horseback from a steamboat on Elliott Bay to the Clymer Farm and points east in 1870. It took him the better part of three days to complete his rounds from Seattle to Black River to Snoqualmie and back.

The Renton Post Office has moved many times since its start; the principal office is now [2024] on Williams Street in downtown Renton.


Guy Reed Ramsey, "Postmarked Washington, 1850-1960," Microfilm (Olympia: Washington State Library, February, 1966), 559; Bureau of Statistics, Agriculture and Immigration, A Review of the Resources and Industries of Washington 1905 (Olympia: C. W. Gorham Public Printers, 1905), 138; Morda C. Slauson, Renton: From Coal to Jets (Renton: Renton Historical Society, 2006 edition), 44-46. Note: This entry updates an earlier item on the same subject. 

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