Of Mules and their Shoes

Tina Hicks from FE&P brought these over to the Woodson this morning. I’m very grateful! (That’s the Woodson refrigerator at the bottom of the photo.)

The one on the left that’s more U-shaped is clearly a heeled mule shoe; the rounder one on the right might have been used for either a mule or a horse. They were discovered during the site preparation for the Hindman Garden between the back of the chapel and the library.

Many of you no doubt recall my epic three-part series on the campus mules and the location of their sheds way back in 2010. (Here, here and here.) Looking back at those posts, I’m somewhat amazed at how much I’ve managed to learn about these creatures, one drop of information at a time. In any event, it was of course the mules that did all of the pulling and hauling tasks for many decades, there being no golf carts available. And if you look closely at the small map in that first post you’ll see that there was a blacksmith shop among the outbuildings used to house and care for these animals. Surely that’s where the farrier would have shoed the mules.

I looked at this picture several times before I saw the mule pulling the mower (at least I think that’s a mower):

Pulling duties today are typically handled by John Deere (although I think we may have an old blue Ford around as well). For example, here’s a tractor dragging along an aerator on the intramural field this spring:

Bonus: Here’s what happens when you google “mule shoes.” So cute!

Extra Bonus: Summer Hours!!

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2 Responses to Of Mules and their Shoes

  1. marmer01 says:

    Summer better than others… Yes, for the longest time the blue Ford tractors with “road” tires were used to pull the trash trailers. I thought they still were but maybe they’ve switched to Deere. The aerator tractor certainly is. Not that you were really talking about this, but one of the coolest Rice vehicles I remember several years ago was a white Dodge 2-ton-ish box truck from the late 60’s that (I think) was used by the Geology Department for seismic measurements. It had the old blue academic seal logo (that used to be used like the Rice Shield is now) on the doors, and most interesting of all, it had locking-hub four wheel drive, which isn’t usually seen on trucks that big except for military vehicles.

  2. larry joe miggns says:

    That truck was sold in the Rice Greensheet and was also used as a storm chaser studying tornados in tornado alley from North Texas up thru Oklahoma. I was a military Dodge Power Wagon 4 wheel drive with a huge straight 6 engine. Top speed about 55 MPH. Greg Byrnes a former graduate student at Space Science Bldg. now working at NASA took some incredible pictures of lighting taken from that truck one summer when he was a storm chaser. Facilites used it as an early high water rescue vehicle on campus.It had a very cool rumble to it. Great memories. Mule and horshoes have been found all over campus especially in the building of Alice Pratt Brown. There must have been a stable around there as well as a water well because the old Rugby field stayed wet in the area now under the Grand Organ studio.

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