Red, Right, Return. The People We Meet.

Jim Sorber: Rogue River Mailman
  • Neither rain, nor sleet, nor rapids?

The part of the Rogue River I deliver mail on has a lot of shallow areas, but no whitewater. I run between Gold Beach and Agness, Oregon, about 32 miles.

  • How long have you been on the job?

More than 20 years now. Before that I worked for the forestry service. Whenever stuff had to be boated in, I was doing it.

  • How did the mail get upriver before you?

My company, Rogue River Mailboats, has been delivering mail here for 110 years. Before me, it was my father, DeForrest “Fat” Sorber.

  • Was he overweight?

No. That was just his nickname. He ran boats on the river after World War II until I took over.

    • Is there much mail?

About 50 pounds a day. Mostly catalogs, because the people up there don’t have a shopping mall. A few newspapers, someone gets the Wall Street Journal. A lot of magazines, too.

  • Boating magazine?

Yup. One guy.

  • Is the river the only way to deliver mail?

There’s a forest service road they built in the mid-1970s, but it’s a lot slower.

  • Is it more reliable?

When they put the road in, someone asked dad if he was going to use it. He said, “Why should I? The boat’s been doing it for a long time and in all those years it’s only missed two days.”

  • What’s the boat like?

A 43-footer, custom-built from aluminum. Name is Wake Up Riley. There’s a story that a fella by that name sold a grub stake to some miners. One night he was asleep when they thought they hit it big and kept yelling, “Wake up, Riley!” But he knew it was only fool’s gold.

  • Is the boat painted gold?

Nope. Blue. Pretty close to post office blue.