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A Tribute To Oily Mules

"The mule is an example of hybrid vigor, Charles Darwin wrote: the mule always appears to me a most surprising animal. That a hybrid should possess more reason, memory, obstinacy, social affection, powers of muscular endurance, and length of life, than either of its parents, seems to indicate that art has here outdone nature."

The world as we know it would simply not exist but for mules. They were the power source that built the industrialized world, from the Hoover Dam clockwise around the planet to the Panama Canal, mules did it.

The mules role in early oil history is paramount; they' were tireless workers, did not bellyache too much, never quit, are personable as hell and smarter than just about every shale oil "analyst" on the internet.

When the oil industry had to move, mules did it.

Kansas, 1917.

Pipeline mules

Political mules working at the capital, Oklahoma City

East Texas; 1923

Near Cushing, Oklahoma, 1916. These worms thought they'd get across the frozen river and didn't make it, looks like. They're in a bind and their mules are freezin' to death; when their ears are laid back like that, they're pissed off. I say... get your Oklahoma asses off the wagon, unhitch the mules and get them to hay as fast as possible. If YOU freeze to death doing it, so be it. Its the mules that count!

Downtown Desdemona; 1921.

Stuck axel deep in the mud and getting passed by, what else, a mule drawn wagon.

Get a mule, hand !

Spindletop, left; Bolivia, below

Mules hauled everything in the early oilfield, from casing to water to enormously heavy steam boilers, heck, they even hauled trailer houses for tool pushers to sleep in.

And they never stopped hauling oil from well tank batteries to train depots for loading out to market. Non stop, around the clock. Rain or shine.

If you drove a mule train you were called a mule skinner, sang songs like the Mule Skinner Blues, ate hard boiled eggs and got to say, "Don't Hurt My Mules!" all the time like the dude in the movie, below.

Myron Kinley broke his foot in Gladewater, East Texas in 1931 and in the process almost burned himself up. He finished capping the well by giving orders to his brother, Floyd and others, off the back of a mule. Numerous times in his career he used mules and plow horses to actually pick up a capping stack to stab over a blowing well.

Mule Shoes...

And by golly Bill, if Ruth was good enough for Festus, all mules are good enough for me.


We had a mule when I was a kid that would bray precisely at 05:30 every morning wanting to get fed. You could set your watch to it. Not the same, but I knew of a miniature donkey who would not miss walking in the tack room at the barn in the mornings to watch TV. He'd stand in front of it like a little kid watching cartoons.

And don't get me started on the role that mules had in fighting BOTH world wars in the European theatre. Wow.

I love mules. Come to think of it, way more than most people.

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