Are computers keeping Cleora alive?

Brief by Central Staff

Postal Service – January 1998 – Colorado Central Magazine

Are Computers Keeping Cleora Alive?

In our June, 1997, edition, we mentioned that the Postal Service still delivers mail to Cleora, even though Cleora’s post office closed on March 7, 1882.

Cleora, which survived as the name of a railroad siding, is a couple of miles east of Salida. It was originally a stagecoach stop named Bale’s Station for John Bale, its owner. He changed its name to Cleora, after his daughter, and its post office opened in 1876. The place faded quickly after the railroad reached Salida in 1880.

Recently Mark Emmer, head honcho of Catspaw (a software company which makes the SPITBOL compiler we use for all kinds of computer chores, from text format conversion to making mailing labels), called to say he, too, had received some material addressed to Cleora, rather than Salida.

The U.S. Postal Service maintains a Web site where you can get ZIP+4 codes. We use it often, and we tried it with “P.O. Box 946, Cleora, CO.”

The Postal Service still knows about Cleora, that its mail should go through Salida, because the standardized address that came back on the Web was “PO BOX 964, SALIDA CO 81201-0946.”

Mark suspects that some big-time mailing-list program, when given a ZIP code like 81201, returns the first matching name in alphabetical order, and since Cleora beats Salida in the alphabet, the program produces Cleora when given 81201.

Mark has forgotten more about computers and software than most people will ever know, so we probably have an explanation for the survival of Cleora almost 116 years after its post office closed.

However, it offers an opportunity to a real-estate developer who wants to install an upscale enclave.

According to an article in the April 25, 1997, Wall Street Journal, the mailing address can affect a property’s value for better or worse.

One example was that of an Al Becker in Virginia. He thought his new house would be in “fashionable” Fairfax Station, but then “he discovered to his horror that a small section of the development, which included his home, had a Lorton mailing address — a name redolent of a District of Columbia maximum-security prison and noxious county landfill….

“Local brokers agree that property values in the Lorton section are lower than those with Fairfax Station addresses … Mr. Becker and about 80 of his neighbors have petitioned the post office to change their mailing addresses, to no avail.”

People don’t just petition, they sue, like one resident of Cos Cob, Connecticut, who believed he should get his mail in tony Greenwich. A chic mailing address, according to an appraiser quoted in the story, can make a property worth 70% more.

Back to Salida. We don’t know if it’s chic or not. But if its name starts to detract from real-estate values, and you’re in that business, you could promote upscale Cleora, thereby avoiding the taint of an old railroad town without a railroad, and residents would still get their mail.