The Los Banos Post Office was established 150 years ago in 1873. The establishment of the post office acknowledged the development of the region gave a sense of place and codified the name Los Banos for the new town.
By 1864 enough settlers and immigrants had planted their hopes on the westside that Gustloff Kreyenhagen opened the first trading post. In 1870 after trying a few different locations he settled several miles west of where the town of Los Banos is now.
The location was just a quarter of a mile west of the current-day Volta Road, and a couple of miles south of where Volta is today. Kreyenhagen’s Station was successful as it became the hub of activity for the mostly immigrant settlers looking for cheap land, opportunity, and a place to call home.
The nearest post offices were either in Gilroy or the river-town, Hills Ferry (Newman). Mail was picked up by stagecoach at those post offices a couple of times a week and had to be brought to Kreyenhagen’s Store where he separated the mail for the locals in redesigned chicken coop nesting boxes.
A Post Office is Granted.
In 1872, Kreyenhagen sold his well-established store to Korn & Hirschfeld. They immediately began advocating for a post office for the developing region.
In November of 1873 their persistence paid off. The community was granted a post office on Nov. 10, 1873, but instead of naming it Kreyenhagen’s Station, Korn promoted the name Los Banos after the nearby creek, and Los Banos Post Office it became.
This was the first time anything else other than the creek had been named Los Banos and the name stuck not only for the post office, but for the community as well.
Moses Korn became the first of many Los Banos postmasters.
Moved to “New” Los Banos
In 1889, the Railroad was constructed through the westside. Henry Miller, the largest landowner and region’s benefactor picked up the buildings of “Old” Los Banos and moved them to a location next to the railroad. This is where Los Banos is located today.
One of the buildings moved was the building containing the federal post office. Along with the post office came the name, hence the new town was named Los Banos. This infuriated a neighboring community that was being established a couple miles north of Old Los Banos.
Members of the growing community intended to move the post office and establish the new town of Los Banos there. This community ultimately got its own post office which was named Volta.
The initial post office in New Los Banos was located on the Southwest corner of the intersection of H and 6th streets. The first postmaster in New Los Banos was Arthur Drummond.
In 1903, after a few moves, the post office was settled in what was thought to be a permanent home in the newly erected Opera House Building. This was on the Northeast corner of the intersection of 6th and I Streets.
The Opera House unfortunately burned down in the infamous 1919 fire and the Post Office got a new home in the newly constructed Odd Fellows building in the early 1920s. This was on the Northeastern corner of the intersection of 6th and J Streets.
A new post office was built in 1939. It was a much larger post office and its construction reflected the stability and growth of the community. This post office was enlarged and modernized in 1968 and the building still serves the community today.
Rocco Pernetti was the postmaster and the persona of the post office from 1954 to 1977, the longest tenure of any of the postmasters throughout the 150 years.
Over the course of the last 150 years the Greater Westside has experienced a fundamental transformation. The changes to come were certainly unimaginable to the early settlers. The one commonality throughout that evolution has been the presence of the Los Banos Post Office.
Happy Sesquicentennial Birthday Los Banos Post Office. Here’s to the next 150 years!
Information for this article was obtained from the Ralph Milliken manuscripts collection at the Milliken Museum. The museum is open every day except Mondays, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m..