A Post Office is normally named after its location. But when George Mandel built his log cabin Post Office in 1880 where the Rock Creek stage line crossed Big Goose Creek along the Bozeman Trail migratory route, there was no town to name it after. So he named it after himself. Over time, that place would become the boom town of Sheridan, Wyoming1 (named after Gen. Phil Sheridan)—and the cabin became so much more than a place that handled mail.
It started when Mandel sold the cabin to John Loucks for 50 silver dollars. Loucks then replaced Mandel as the postmaster, using a cracker box to hold the mail. With all the extra room in the cabin he soon started selling goods from the post office, creating the area’s first store.
Loucks later purchased another nearby cabin (sorry, we don’t know the price) and attached it to the Mandel Cabin to create a kitchen for his wife, Annie. Eventually they would open the cabin up to a local teacher, turning the Post Office, store and kitchen into Sheridan’s first school too. Over time, this little building would also host social events, house the area’s first law office, and be where women voted—since Wyoming granted women suffrage in 1869.
All the while the town of Sheridan was literally growing up around this little multi-purpose building. Today Mandel Cabin and Post Office stands in Whitney Commons Park, not far from its original site.2 And Sheridan stands halfway between Yellowstone Park and Mount Rushmore (513 miles whether by car or stagecoach3).
1 The cabin established a city in Northern Wyoming along the Bozeman Trail migratory route and quickly became a boom town due to high BTU coal being mined nearby. Because the coal burned hot and clean, less of it was needed to power the steam locomotives which helped quickly settle the west.
2 The cabin has been moved seven times, starting in 1883 when Loucks tore down the Mandel Cabin and moved its logs to the corner of Main and Loucks, rebuilt it and added upstairs living quarters. Years later, the building was slated for destruction when its owner, one-time Mayor Russell York, discovered the hand-hewn logs under the clapboard and contacted the Sheridan County Historical Society. —The Sheridan Press Oct 25, 2002
3 Stagecoach travel was no place for sissies with up to nine passengers averaging daily 110 miles of continuous night and day travel at four and a half miles per hour —Marshall Trimble