Miles of Mules was a wonderful public art project designed to couple the beauty of art with the richness of history along the Delaware and Lehigh canals. Miles of Mules was an idea started by the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, which celebrates the history and beauty of Luzerne, Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton, and Bucks Counties. Here, anthracite coal was first discovered, mined, and transported by the canal system, with mules providing the locomotive power. Just prior to the Civil War, over 3,000 mule-drawn boats traveled up and down the Delaware Canal, moving over one million tons of coal a year. For more information about mules, visit the Friends of the Delaware Canal website.
The Miles of Mules project was expanded through partners: the Cultural Council of Luzerne County in Wilkes Barre, the Banana Factory in Bethlehem, and the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown. These encompassed the northern, central, and southern regions of the project.
The Theme Factory in Philadelphia produced the first four prototype mules in July, 2002 in two poses: standing and stubbornly sitting. A total of 175 mules were produced and painted, and located throughout the region. In time, many of the mules were moved, some were damaged or destroyed, and 45 of the mules were auctioned to the public in October 2003. If you want to find out about the history of this project and see wonderful photos of the original mules, you should check out Miles of Mules 2003: History with a Colorful Kick.
To celebrate the tenth birthday of the first four mules in July of 2012, we've begun the effort of trying to locate as many of the mules as we can. Many still appear on public places, some outdoors in private locations, and some out-of-view in private areas. We've started photographing and locating as many as we can, and we'd like to ask the public to help in this effort to find our lost mules.
Noted art teacher Angie Mikula (daughter and sister of the webmasters) created "By the Light of the Silvery Mule", sponsored by the Doylestown Business and Community Alliance, The Community Conservatory of Music, Heritage Towers, and Whitney Photography. Her description was: "A young girl whispers her wish for a land of castles into the mule's ear. On it's other side her wish is granted, and the streets of her hometown are transformed." Angie also held a class at the Community Conservatory of Music where young children painted miniature versions of the mules. The mule graced the corner of State and Main Streets for many months prior to the auction.
As a proud father and sister, we present below some of the stages of the mule's creation, as well as the children's creations.