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"Meet Our Mules!" may not be something you expect to hear when you visit a museum,

but here at the National Canal Museum, our friendly "engines" for the Josiah White II canal boat work alongside our crew of historical interpreters to tell the story of the anthracite canals and the people who worked and lived on them.

Our current mule team, Hank & George, have been with us since 2006, but the first mules joined the museum in 1978, carrying on the legacy of the mules who worked the towpath since the canal opened in 1829. Scroll on to "Meet Our Mules!"

1978

This One, That One, Jessie & Jennie

Boat rides on the canal aboard the Josiah White began on July 1, 1978, with two mules known only as “This One” & "That One." While "This One" & "That One" did not complete the season, they hold a special place as the first team to walk the towpath at the National Canal Museum.

"This One" & "That One" pulled the original Josiah White canal boat on her maiden voyage

Jessie was purchased to replace one of the original mules, and Jennie joined the team the following spring.

Left: Jessie & Jennie being ridden down the towpath from the Miller's Farm, around 1980.

Jessie & Jennie ready for a day of work

Right: In this photo taken around 1980, mules Jessie & Jennie take a break in the shade at the end of a boat ride with the original Josiah White canal boat.

1986-1987

Jessie & Jackie

1986-1987 were transitional years for the NCM Mules, as Jackie was added to the team. Jackie the Mule was named for Jackie Miller, who, along with her husband John, boarded our mules on their farm in Bethlehem Township. While Jennie wouldn't officially retire for another year, Jessie & Jackie were teamed up for the 1986 season.

Jessie & Jennie (looking quite regal in their crowns) with their human companion, Executive Director Steve Humphrey, during Jennie's retirement party.

Left: On March 14, 1987, Jackie participated in the ground breaking ceremony for the new Trexler Library at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA

Jackie & Copper

After one more year on the towpath, Jessie joined Jennie in retirement. A farewell party was held on August 6, 1987, and the two hard-working girls retreated to Ken Miller’s farm in Warren County, New Jersey.

Left: Jessie & Jennie relax on the Miller farm.

Jackie & Copper, with Rick Chillot, prepare to take over the reins as NCM mules

Copper, a 14-year-old female mule, was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Michael Dickerson and teamed with Jackie.

Jackie and Copper getting ready to head to work during the 1988 season

1991

Dixie & Daisy

After four years, Jackie & Copper retired to a farm near Bath, PA. The new mules, Dixie & Daisy, were purchased in April 1991. Each was thought to be 5 years old, and a contest was held to name the newest four-legged members of the museum team.

Dixie was named by a former Dixie Cup employee, who thought it would be the proper name for a mule in Hugh Moore Park. Daisy was named by a Forks Elementary 2nd grader.

Left: Sue Francisco walks with Dixie & Daisy along the towpath in 1999, with the Josiah White II in the background.

Fun Fact: In 1993, Dixie & Daisy were featured in a mule calendar! Unfortunately, we haven't found any images to share...

2006

Hank & George - "The Boys"

The National Canal Museum's current mule team, “The Boys” (aka Hank & George), joined the museum in 2006, when Dixie & Daisy retired to the farm of Robert and Alice Cressman, in Quakertown, PA. Hank & George are male Percheron mules, purchased at a Lancaster County mule auction, thanks to a donation of $3500 by National Canal Museum benefactor Elaine Emrick.

Mules 228 (Hank) and 229 (George) were bought at auction in New Holland, PA in January 2006. While they aren't brothers, the two were - and still are - inseparable!

“The Boys" arrived in the Park in May 2006, and are the first male team to pull the canal boat. Like Dixie & Daisy, Hank & George got their names in a contest.

2009

In March 2009, the National Canal Museum was notified that all boat crew members would be required to have Transportation Worker Identification Credential cards, a security clearance required by the Department of Homeland Security for all people who work on ships and docks.

Congressman Charlie Dent displayed a photo of George and Hank and questioned Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about the need for clearances for the crew of a wooden canal boat drawn by mules.

Dent was quoted on CNN saying “Now Hank and George, while sometimes are ornery, are not terrorists.” Dent and Napolitano eventually came to an agreement that limited the security clearance requirement to only the crew members who also hold Coast Guard Mariners licenses.

Right: Hank & George: Only a threat to the tasty flowers along the towpath.

2020-Present

Halloween 2020 found "The Boys" in a nostalgic mood with a Back to the Future theme featuring Hank (left) as Doc Brown and George (right) as Marty McFly

While "The Boys" are the longest-serving mule team at the National Canal Museum, they don't take their jobs too seriously! For Halloween in 2020, Hank & George paid tribute to favorite film Back to the Future, and they've been known to wear pirate hats, patriotic ribbons, and other eye-catching outfits.

In 2021, Hank will celebrate his 21st birthday, while George turns 18. By October, they will hold the record for the number of years pulling Josiah White II, at 16 seasons! If you'd like to celebrate along with them, click here to plan a visit!

Created By
National Canal Museum, Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor
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