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Mule Capitals of the World

Mules worked in the fields, carried our packs,

pulled heavy barges on the canals, plodded

through darkness in the mines, guided supply

wagons and streetcars about the cities, carried

tourists to exotic places like the Grand Canyon

and transported army supplies and light

artillery for the government.”

Okay, that helps. For simplicity, let’s stick

with the United States. So then, which city

or state claims the title? An internet search

offers no clarity, as the top rankings look like a

prizefight, one location constantly bumping off

another for top billing. Nonetheless, the search

was narrowed down to: Lathrop, Missouri;

Columbia, Tennessee; and Bishop, California.



In light of the mule being the official State

Animal of Missouri, it seems we’re on the

right track here. The University of Missouri

at Columbia and its College of Veterinary

Medicine’s mascots are mules, Tom and Jerry.

For more detail, I asked noted mule expert,

editor of Western Mule Magazine and native

Missourian, Ben Tennison. Ben was asked for

his input in 1995, when House Bill 84 was put

before the Missouri House of Representatives to

officially designate the mule as Missouri’s State

Animal. He proudly stood behind Governor

Mel Carnahan as the bill was signed into law.

He shares (only partially tongue in cheek) that

is has been said, “Don’t come in here trashing

no mules. Some interpretations of the law may

give Missourians the right to hang, shoot or

badly maim anyone who talks trash about

mules in this state – all while clutching a copy

of House Bill 84 in their hand!”

In all seriousness, Missourians have a right to

their pride. According to the U.S. Department

of Agriculture, for three decades (1865-1895) Big

Mo led the nation in draft mule numbers, value

and quality. The state’s location played a role as

well. Mules were essential to the supply routes

that headed west in the 19th century, most

notably the Santa Fe Trail with its terminus in

Missouri Logging Mules

→ Continued on pg. 12