Mules and Men
— Delaware Canal —
Mules provided the power to move boats along the Delaware Canal. The mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. Compared to a horse, the surefooted mule ate less, had stronger endurance and better health. It was natural for a team to put twenty-five miles or more under their hooves each day.
Outfitting a Mule
Equipment included a harness, fly net, bells, hat and feed bag. Canallers owned their mules and harness, often bought from the coal company’s stables and equipment stores.
A Mule’s Day
The working day for the mules began with grooming, light feeding and harness fitting. Some mule drivers fed their team the first meal after working an hour, claiming the animals stayed healthier that way. When the tow line went slack it was time to feed the mules. The driver hung a feed bag around each animal’s neck allowing it to eat while while working.
Mules had an unusual form of relaxation. According to one boatman, Howard Swope, if the mules seemed tired during the day, the driver “—would let them have a roll or two in a nearby field and then continue on for several
The drivers quite attached to their teams during the long hours together, fondly bragged about the mules’ intelligence and instinct. A well trained team traveled the towpath unattended for miles, allowing the drive to rest on the boat.
Erected by Friends of the Delaware Canal and the DCNR.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Animals • Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Delaware Canal (AKA Delaware Division of the Pennsylvania Canal) series list.
Location. 40° 37.637′ N, 75° 11.461′ W. Marker is in Williams Township, Pennsylvania, in Northampton County. Marker is on South Delaware Drive. The marker is on the grounds of the Delaware Canal State Park, Locks 22, 23. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2320 S Delaware Dr, Easton PA 18042, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Life Along The Canal (a few steps from this marker); Maurice K. Goddard (within shouting distance of this marker); Pennsylvania Canal (within shouting distance of this marker); Delaware Canal (within shouting distance of this marker); Carpentersville (approx. half
Credits. This page was last revised on January 5, 2021. It was originally submitted on July 25, 2015, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 202 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on July 25, 2015, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.