Saturday Night Mule Video

This 20-mule hitch is pulling accurate replicas of the sort of wagon used 1.5 centuries ago to haul borax out of the minesites in the Old West.  You’ve heard of “20-Mule Team Borax?”  This is how it was done!

When they made a 90-degree right turn, let’s say, they pulled straight through the intersection until all the mules were beyond it, and the wagons, smack in the middle of the intersection, were in the left lane, or the muddy or dusty equivalent.

Then the mules on the left side of the main trace, or chain, on command “jumped the traces” to the right side thereof.  All the mules then bunched together on the right side of the main trace and turned tightly to walk back to the intersection and take the turn.

Then those mules straightened out on the new road.  And then the mules belonging on the left side of the trace jumped back there to the left side where their places were.  So then as they pulled straight ahead on the new road, the wagons could take the turn.  Had they not done all that, forget it; they would have rammed the wagons into whatever had been standing at the corner.

This video is not edited over-well, so you do not see the turn correctly.  BUT, but, you do see mules jumping the traces at about 4 minutes in.

On their way home, this team pulled uphill all the way.  Near home, they slowed, as it was a load, but “they pulled through.”

The ranch where this magnificent public benefactor had fun making all this happen is located in Bishop, California.  There is a grand confabulation and gathering of admirers of the long-ears there, every Memorial Day.

The timing of that event is fitting. Mules have fought with us in our wars, from our Revolution, through the Civil War, the Great War, and the Second World War in Burma:

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9 thoughts on “Saturday Night Mule Video”

  1. A friend of mine who died in October was a mule skinner in WW ll He was 17 when he enlisted. He took a ship full of mules to Italy where they were used in the mountains where wheeled vehicles couldn’t go. He ended up in Germany at the battle of the Bulge.

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  2. Hi, @PhCheese!  Had your friend worked with mules before going to war?  And did he have any details he could give you about the transport, the mountains, and so on?

    My Dad rode east over the Burma Road to Kunming in early 1945 on “a Chinese pony.”  That is all he told us kids about that part.  Now I am trying to figure it out retrospectively.

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  3. In the Marine Corps, during the almost innumerable Central American ”actions”, the Marines on patrol routinely used mules to carry their supplies. Thus, when suddenly ambushed, one of their “immediate actions” was to shoot the mules so their supplies wouldn’t run away. They would then use the mule carcasses for cover in returning fire.

    Is it not interesting that driving such a mule train was not considered a “privilege” granted by the state and requiring a license.

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  4. Devereaux:
    In the Marine Corps, during the almost innumerable Central American ”actions”, the Marines on patrol routinely used mules to carry their supplies. Thus, when suddenly ambushed, one of their “immediate actions” was to shoot the mules so their supplies wouldn’t run away. They would then use the mule carcasses for cover in returning fire.

    Is it not interesting that driving such a mule train was not considered a “privilege” granted by the state and requiring a license.

    I wonder what the Marine mules thought about being shot and being used for cover.

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  5. 10 Cents:

    Devereaux:
    In the Marine Corps, during the almost innumerable Central American ”actions”, the Marines on patrol routinely used mules to carry their supplies. Thus, when suddenly ambushed, one of their “immediate actions” was to shoot the mules so their supplies wouldn’t run away. They would then use the mule carcasses for cover in returning fire.

    Is it not interesting that driving such a mule train was not considered a “privilege” granted by the state and requiring a license.

    I wonder what the Marine mules thought about being shot and being used for cover.

    Well unlike inanimate objects, sock puppets, mules don’t think when they are dead.

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  6. G.D.:

    10 Cents:

    Devereaux:
    In the Marine Corps, during the almost innumerable Central American ”actions”, the Marines on patrol routinely used mules to carry their supplies. Thus, when suddenly ambushed, one of their “immediate actions” was to shoot the mules so their supplies wouldn’t run away. They would then use the mule carcasses for cover in returning fire.

    Is it not interesting that driving such a mule train was not considered a “privilege” granted by the state and requiring a license.

    I wonder what the Marine mules thought about being shot and being used for cover.

    Well unlike inanimate objects, sock puppets, mules don’t think when they are dead.

    G.D. – ?Must we now assume you believe Dime, not yet being dead, thinks. Thin ice there, brother.

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  7. Devereaux:

    G.D.:

    10 Cents:

    Devereaux:
    In the Marine Corps, during the almost innumerable Central American ”actions”, the Marines on patrol routinely used mules to carry their supplies. Thus, when suddenly ambushed, one of their “immediate actions” was to shoot the mules so their supplies wouldn’t run away. They would then use the mule carcasses for cover in returning fire.

    Is it not interesting that driving such a mule train was not considered a “privilege” granted by the state and requiring a license.

    I wonder what the Marine mules thought about being shot and being used for cover.

    Well unlike inanimate objects, sock puppets, mules don’t think when they are dead.

    G.D. – ?Must we now assume you believe Dime, not yet being dead, thinks. Thin ice there, brother.

    Dev, if you want cover let me recommend Gerry.

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  8. From the title , will this be a weekly feature? Can’t wait.

    My brother in law is Spanish and his mandatory military service circa 1970 was as a mule-master in the mountains of northern Spain.

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