The curious tale from 1951 of Rhoda the mule

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By The Staff

By 1951, Rhoda was the only mule left in Mule Hollow, a Cannelton-area neighborhood where 75 to 80 mules once worked in that area of the American Cannel Coal Co's mines.

Rhoda labored in the mines for many years and at a height of 3 inches under that of the coal banks dug into local hillsides, was well-suited to the job. She later worked at the Tell City Brick Plant, hauling clay and finished bricks.

After retiring from hard mule work, where she was referred to many times as downright mean and stubborn, Rhoda became gentle as a kitten, the result of companionship and friends.

When Rhoda retired, her companions were a mare and her colt. They all played like children and were great friends. Rhoda was getting gray, between 35 and 40 years of age, and could not hear well. But but that did not keep her from enjoying life and her friends.

But then a terrible thing happen. The mare became sick and died. That necessitated selling the colt, which broke Rhoda's heart. She would not be consoled and cried so pitifully it made the owners cry also. She would venture over the pasture looking for her pals and not finding them, she would bray, not like a mule brays but like a human weeping loudly. She roamed her pasture day after day looking for her friends.

Time, and the visits of nearby children finally healed her sadness and Rhoda lived out the rest of her days happy in Mule Hollow. She made the Cannelton News in 1951 and the clipping is now part of an exhibit at the Perry County Museum.

Information for this article was submitted by Donna Mason, curator of the Perry County Museum.