The Mule Cars.....
went Sailing down Euclid with the Mule's Ears Flapping in the wind...
My grandmother, said she took the Mule Car to school every day, but she never said which school....She didn't attend Chaffey until 1911 and by then the Mule Car was already gathering dust in a field south of Holt, but she always told me she could remember watching the Mule standing on its platform with what looked like a big grin on his snout and his ears flapping in the winds.....Maybe the Santa Ana Winds I told her, the conductor acted like he was holding on for dear life as he guided the car down the wide center medium of Euclid at about 5 mph.
Of course this conversation took place back in the 60's when I use to drive my grandmother around to do her shopping and other things...I always remember her telling the gas station attendant (She paid for my gas) put two dollars in please....Back then, gas was about 29 Cents per gallon and she was furious when it went up to 39 cents per gallon...."What's the government trying to do, rob us all blind?"....I just smiled and waited for the attendant to finish washing the windows.
The Mule Car ran from 1888 to 1895.....The car was owned by the Ontario & San Antonio Heights R.R. Company and during those few short years the Cars transported thousands of people up and down Euclid from Holt to about 24 street, almost 1,000 feet in elevation change....At the top the conductor would turn the mule around and pull out a wooden platform that had train wheels attached....The mule would then step up on the platform and then coast all the way down to Holt, where the conductor would reverse the procedure.
When service ended, the cars were taken to a site east of Ontario and allowed to blow away in the winds literally....In 1956 when it was decided to make a replica's of the mule cars, the people involved in the project went looking for the old cars....Of course nothing could be found by then so the search began in various libraries and plans designed by John Tayes and some old photos were found in Uplands Library.
The people who were behind the restoration program, asked for donations to recreate them, and once obtained, the organizer of the group, William Richardson asked a friend of his at MGM Studios in Hollywood to build them.....It took about a year but in 1957, the cars were finished and sent back to the group, just in time for the city of Ontario's 75th anniversary......After the events were over, the group found that they still had no place as yet for the planned museum so they were stored under canvas in the Ontario city Yards.
Finally, nearly 15 years later, a small group got together and restored the station, the cars and the mule to its rightful place, just south of Holt in the center divider of Euclid Ave....Kip and Elinore Carlson, some friends of mine through an old girl friend, and Ontario City employees built the current Mule Car Exhibit in memory of there son who died in Vietnam in 1972.....In his memory the exhibit was dedicated to Ontario and the Inland Empire in 1974.
Some trivia i had heard as a kid and actually found in old stories, were that the trip up Euclid took nearly an hour....Funny that in today's traffic and lights, it still takes nearly an hour to make the trip.....It was said that once the mule was on the platform and being fed, the conductor could safely make it back down in less than 20 minutes.
The Chaffey Brothers, finally finished the Power station up in San Antonio Canyon in 1895, so the mules were sold to a local farmer and the cars were electrified.....But residents including my grandmother said it was never quite the same without the mules though.....Another bit of Trivia was that the farmer who bought the mules had to finally get rid of them....Seems they would only pull one way in his fields....They expected to ride the other direction.
John Tays came up with the idea for the mules when he recalled that mules were used in South Africans Mines to pull mining cars out of the shafts....They too were able to ride down the shafts....I wonder if all mules are inbred with that behavior....It sure would explain some surly behavior on their part as we rode mules down the Grand Canyon a few years ago.
Gary Hall, the ghostpainter