Historian's Corner

Charlene Cole
Sandy Creek/Lacona Historian
Historian's Corner
October 22, 2019

Photo: 20 Mule Team photo by Larry Sievers

Sandy Creek News: September 7, 1967

Jean DeHaven and his famous 20 Mule Team, enroute from the State Fair to Expo ’67, is expected to arrive in Sandy Creek about 3 o’clock this afternoon. The outfit will camp overnight at Birch and Buck’s on Route 11, a mile south of Sandy Creek, and everyone is cordially invited to come and see them there. Each evening wherever they camp DeHaven gives a fireside talk telling of his experiences on this trip. The outfit will start on north at 7 a.m. Friday.

With the 38-year-old DeHaven is his wife, Norma, four little daughters, a son Forrest, 13 and a nephew Steve, who is 15. The colorful group includes six cowboys and mule skinners (with beards); an authentic water wagon, over 100 years old.

DeHaven started his trek in Death Valley, California a year ago in April. He wintered in Wessington, South Dakota, his home and them took off for Expo ’67. Thus far he has “hoofed” 4,000 miles, and it will be a long 5,000 miles upon reaching Montreal October 1.

After appearing 15 days at Canada’s wonderful exposition he will appear in Macy’s parade on Thanksgiving Day and has several T.V. commitments. His well fed and well cared for mules and horses consume 12 bales of hay, six sacks of oats and 300 gallons of water daily.

This is the only jerk line 20 mule team in the world. It is controlled by a nylon rope 123 ft. long connected to the lead mule “Judy.” A short jerk on the so-called telephone line and the whole team goes right, a steady pull and they go left – he hopes. The cowboys act as flagmen to keep the mule team and traffic out of trouble.

DeHaven, a former auctioneer and rancher by trade, traveled to 12 states in assembling this “Mule Train.”

This group of South Dakotans sleep out – eat out and live by the traditions of the old west. They carry their own blacksmith, and have used 1,500 pounds of horseshoes and 70 pounds of horseshoe nails.

They travel about three and a half miles per hour and about 20 miles per day.

Charlene Cole
Sandy Creek/Lacona Historian
1992 Harwood Drive
Sandy Creek, NY 13145
315-387-5456 x7
Office hours: Friday 9am to 2pm