Liberty, Tennessee: Mule on a Cliff

A small black mule painted on a cliff has been there as long as anyone can remember. The adjacent highway was rerouted so as not to disturb the mule.
Address:
US Hwy 70, Liberty, TN
Directions:
Maude the Mule is on the north side of US Hwy 70, just 1.3 miles west of the bridge at Liberty.
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Maude the Mule glyph. Fabled Mule Glyph

There is a painting of a mule on a cliff wall that's been there for a long time. It's at Alexandria if I remember correctly.

Two stories out there: 1) Around 1900, a doctor was a student and he painted it as a joke. It was supposed to be of "Maude the Mule," a popular cartoon of the time [first published in 1904]. The doctor took and blew up the outline of the mule on paper and then traced it on the wall. This is the current story that is believed true.

The other story, which I liked, was about a mule trader who lost his mule over the bluff and then painted it to the memory of the mule. It is at least 75-100 feet above the ground, not easy to paint. When the road was going through, people banded together and forced the state to move the road. The state built up the other side towards the creek so they would have enough room.

I remember it as a child when I lived close to Memphis. It was about a 6 hour drive at that time to this area and when I saw the mule I knew I was close to my grandmother's.

[Willy Young, 06/01/2007]

Hard to believe the highway was rerouted to preserve the mule! But it's nice to have an occasional landmark where it's unnecessary to stop, or even slow down...

Donkey Painting

There is a picture of a running donkey painted on a rock near Smithville, Tennessee that has been there since 1951 and probably longer. The unusual thing is that it has been repainted regularly by someone who isn't afraid to climb up there. I have passed by there several times a year since I was in high school and I'm 64 now. Recently a roadside sign marks it's location in case someone fails to notice it. It is on highway 70, west of Smithville near Liberty.

[hmurrill, 09/19/1997]

Liberty (pop. 376) bills itself as "Home of the World Famous Mule."

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August 30, 2014

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