The above picture shows the VZ_ freight outfit (weight of load 21,300 lbs. net, consisting of everything from rock salt to needles) ready to start on a 85 mile drive to the S. C. Tyler Cattle Ranch in the Panhandle of Texas. This outfit is driven out of Kansas through Oklahoma and into Texas to reach its destination. In crossing the Beaver and Coldwater Rivers it tooks all twelve head of mules to place the lead wagon alone across. Milo Caple (the driver) is well skilled in the art of handling large mule teams, and with a team of this size can make about 30 miles a day. There is not so much time consumed in harnessing as one would suppose, as the team is controlled by a single line, called a jerk line, running from the drivers saddle on the near wheel mule and connecting with the whole bit on the near leader, to the left side of whose hames a steel “jockey stick” is snapped into the right side of the bit on the off leader. A double jerk on the line turns the near leader to the right forcing the off leader to the right on account of the jockey stick between them, a steady pull will turn the leaders to the left. When once the trick is acquired it is not at all difficult to handle a big team, and with good judgement and nerve a big team may be driven as accurately as a small one. To obtain the maximum amount of exertion from a large mule team requires a judicious mixture of profanity and black-snake, and it all comes with practice. The black-snake is the heavy shot loaded whip that is hanging around the driver’s neck.

Page last updated June 8, 2002.