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Daniel Buck
Re: Mules at San Vicente
Mon Apr 9, 2018 10:58am


Cassidy and Sundance rode mules in the Bolivian Andes because they are more sure-footed in mountainous terrain and have stronger stamina than horses, especially at higher altitudes. They survive on less feed. The Bolivian Altiplano, stretching from Peru almost to Argentina, is roughly 12,000 to more than 13,000 feet. The Concordia mine, where Cassidy and Sundance worked, is between 15,000 and 16,000 feet. San Vicente is 14,500 feet. Oruro is 12,234.

Mules were the Andean mode of transport, the natural choice, both for riding and pulling wagons or stagecoaches. The demand was so great that in the 19th and early 20th century thousands of mules were driven up annually into Bolivia and Peru from Argentina. Pierre Denis, Argentine Republic (1922), discusses the mule trade in some detail and reports, p. 53, that every year between 1910 and 1914 from 2,600 to 4,500 mules were exported to Bolivia.

Did Cassidy and Sundance know mules? Prior to coming to work at the Concordia Mine, Sundance had worked as a muleteer for Roy Letson, driving mules from Argentina to Bolivia. See Digging up (2003), pp. 93-94.

Oh, if that's not enough, mules come recommended by Charles Darwin, who had this to say of his 1835 ride from Santiago up into the Andes: "The mule always appears to me a most surprising animal. That a hybrid should possess more reason, memory, obstinacy, social affection, powers of muscular endurance, and length of life, than either of its parents, seems to indicate that art has here outdone nature. Of our ten animals, six were intended for riding, and four for carrying cargoes, each taking turn about."

I never miss an opportunity to cite Charles Darwin.

Finally, the mule was much more common in the American West that is imagined. For additional information, see "The Mule," Theodore H. Savory, Scientific American, December 1970; "The Hybrid Beast That Built the West," Charles M. Robinson III, Wild West, 2009; "The History of Mules: A Long Overdue Look at These Real Heroes of the American West," Deb Kidwell, True West, May 2017.

As for the second part of your post -- "Pat was partially right about them being Spaniards. They were described as Spanish rubios, which we both know what that means. Why was there skin not brown from the sun as BUtch and SK have been described?" -- I'm not quite sure what you are driving at. "We both know what" what means?

Neither of the two bandits was as far as I recall described as a "Spaniard." If you have a citation that says differently, let me know. Carlos Pero, the man they robbed, described them as Yankees and said they spoke English to him. That's fairly definite. See Digging Up (2003), p. 230

Nor do I understand your question about brown skin. Are you saying they would have been tan, therefore Remigio Sánchez would not have described them as rubios? (Rubio, for those of you just tuning in, means fair-skinned with hair ranging from blond to flaxen to brown. Most white Yankees, as well as Germans, Swedes, Austrians, etc., unless they have black hair, are rubio.)

As for whether Cassidy and Sundance were tan, can we start with the obvious: they wore cowboy hats, which shaded their faces. In fact, they would have been crazy not to wear their cowboy hats. The Andean sun is brutal on whitey. Even if Cassidy and Sundance were tanner than normal, their skin tone was still much lighter that the dark complexion of your average Andean local. They would still have been seen as rubios. Best Dan

  • Mules at San VicenteChrisV, Mon Apr 9 6:12am
    Why would Butch and Sundance use mules as transportation to San Vicente? After all the years of having horses saddled, ready to go at a moments notice for a quick get away, they decide to use mules... more
    • Re: Mules at San Vicente — Daniel Buck, Mon Apr 9 10:58am
      • Dan Pat, Mon Apr 9 2:18pm
        Don't forget about Cassidy in 1889 described as a Muleteer in Telludide.
        • Mules and even BurrosBob Goodwin, Tue Apr 10 6:55am
          Butch had plenty of experience with Mules. Actually, when younger Butch was known to have raced just about anything with four legs. I have references of him racing Mules, and even Burros. While in... more
          • Re: Mules and even BurrosChrisV, Tue Apr 10 7:42am
            Thats nice information Bob. Im not saying he didnt have experience with mules. What I am saying is a mule is not the right tool for a getaway. Did Butch use mules at Castlegate, Wilcox, Wagner,... more
            • Chris Pat, Tue Apr 10 9:52am
              You don't know the first clue about any of this do you? The robbery was in a out of the way place and not near a town.
        • Re: Dan Daniel Buck, Mon Apr 9 2:39pm
          Pat, Thanks. I did forget that. Mules were a big deal in the American West. They didn't t many walk-on parts in the movies because they're not as sexy as horses, but they were important. Dan PS I'm... more
      • Re: Mules at San VicenteChrisV, Mon Apr 9 2:13pm
        Dan, I understand mules are perfect for many things. However, in a getaway situation I would want something to move faster like a horse. If a horse’s endurance isn’t as good as a mule, a smart robber ... more
        • coulda,woulda, shoulaDaniel Buck, Mon Apr 9 2:30pm
          Chris, Your approach is how it would have been if you had been been in charge: It would not have worked out the way it supposedly did because you would have been smarter and it would have worked out... more
          • Re: coulda,woulda, shoulaChrisV, Mon Apr 9 3:29pm
            What Im trying to get at, is Butch and SK never did it this way. Its not their style. There is still nothing that points to it being them, in fact quite the opposite Another member used the Bonnie... more
    • Re: Mules at San VicenteJuha, Mon Apr 9 7:03am
      Because mules are very good if not better in rough rocky and hilly terrain. Nothing stupid using a mule, think Tom Horn and General Crook. Didn't they also have an automatic pistol and binoculars?... more
      • Re: Mules at San VicenteChrisV, Mon Apr 9 7:30am
        The terrain is not that much different than they would have experienced back in the states other than a higher elevation. Horses would be more than capable and be an advantage over mules. After the... more
        • Why didn'tjim lynch, Mon Apr 9 8:54am
          Bonnie and Clyde drive a tank instead of that old Ford. They should have known Hamer and his murder squad were there waiting for them.
          • Re: Why didn'tChrisv, Mon Apr 9 9:03am
            Why didnt Sundance stop correspondence with Samanna after San Vicente? After all, he's supposed to be dead. Quite a trick.
            • You are confused today ChrisPat, Mon Apr 9 9:16am
              This is why you need to go to Bolivia . Or at least studied the subject.All the mine's in the area used mules as they were must stronger in that elevation plus had more wind /lung power. Hudgeon's... more
              • Re: You are confused today ChrisVince Garcia, Tue Apr 10 5:54am
                Not only that, but you need small mules ideally at the higher elevations. Large ones wear out quick
                • mule never knowDaniel Buck, Tue Apr 10 11:52am
                  Now, here's something. Normally, when a question is raised or an assumption made I like to go back to the beginning and double-check the basic facts, following the two-fisted mantra, what is it, and... more
                  • Re: mule never knowVince Garcia, Tue Apr 10 4:52pm
                    The bottom line is, horses are not the best beasts in the high Andes. One might even argue a llama is better than a mule in some instances because they are fine in the mountains but have a better... more
                    • Re: mule never knowChrisV, Tue Apr 10 6:55pm
                      Vince most of your comments I respect But if your suggesting a llama being used as a mount after a robbery you've come unhinged. Maybe we should try armadillo riding too.
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