Sunday, April 09, 2006

Mule Train


Here's a postcard showing a mule train going through Waterloo, Wisconsin. Judging by the buildings, clothing, and style of postcard (divided back, printed in Germany), it must have been printed sometime between 1907 and 1915. The only problem is, I can't seem to find any evidence of a 20-mule team traveling through this part of the country during those specific years.

I thought it might be the Boraxo Company's famous "20 Mule Team Borax" mule team on a tour (from what I've read, the mules were no longer working as borax haulers during that time, having been replaced by narrow-gauge railway in the 1890's), but the Boron Chamber of Commerce people tell me that they toured in the 1950's, going to parades. Clearly, this picture is from a much earlier time.

There is, however, some talk in this story by Joe Zentner of a mule team going to the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition (World's Fair) in St. Louis as part of an advertising campaign, and then touring the East Coast for the next few years, but the story also says that, in late 1906, "the mules were sold and the wagons returned to California," so that wouldn't quite fit, either. Unless the photo was taken previous to the "divided-back era" of postcards, and just postcarded up at a later time. Hmmmm...

------------------------------------------------

2008-July-15 Edited to add:
Another copy of this postcard was recently seen for sale on eBay, with a 1907 postmark.

5 comments:

Tim Rice said...

Nice historical pictures on your blog.

Me the Great said...

Thanks, Tim!

Stamppy said...

The photo could have been faked, like the trolley in Plain postcards!

Why isn't the lady on the right even looking at the horsies as they pass thru town? Oh, probably because she's seen mule trains before. Did you notice the horses aren't moving? They're just standing there for the photo.

The shadow of that tree looks a little suspicious, too. The angle of the shadow doesn't match with the angle of the man's shadow on the left.

Have you identified any of the buildings?

Why are there 2 different heights of electric poles? And they're so close to each other!

Would this photo be taken from the 4 corners, or looking in the direction of the 4 corners?

So many questions, so few answers.

Stamppy said...

ahahhahaha, you have to approve my post first! AHAHHAHAHAHAHA

Me the Great said...

That would be just like the Germans, to fake a mule train!

Maybe lady on right was looking at them, but just happened to turn to speak to a friend at the moment the photo was taken. The mules appear to be waiting for something (I hope they're not waiting for Godot, because, as I recall, he never shows up (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waiting_For_Godot)) -- maybe they're waiting for the bumper-to-bumper-to-buuuuuuumper traffic to ease up. There's a man walking in the back by the wagon -- maybe it's the driver, and perhaps he's stopped to pick up some sausages at the local locker plant.

The shadows all look to me like the sun is coming from the front and left. Note the mule in front with his head turned -- his shadow sticks out more, but because his head is stuck out more.

The view is looking up N Monroe, on the west/left side. The two buildings on the left are no longer there -- they are where the Wendt building (The Diner) and the something else building are now. The next long building with the pointies on top is where Raaaaaaay's Tog and Video are. The next building with the upward swoop and a diamond shape near the top is where Minuteman is now. And the next building with three windows is where Audrey has her Place. And that's as far as my "modern" picture goes to. I'll post that one, too, so you can compare.

I don't know about the poles -- maybe they had one set for telephone/telegraph, and one for electricity?