Museum Memories: Maude the mule digs her heels in

In 1905, two years after Katalla was founded, six men from Valdez decided a better port for coal and oil shipment would be near the village of Eyak.

The six men were George Cheever Hazelet, A.J. Adams, John Goodell, Thomas J. Donohoe, John J. Ostrander and George Easterly. The six staked out land for the new townsite to the north of Eyak and put lots on sale.

New buildings began rising on the main street. Businesses from ‘old town’ began moving around the bend.

One resident who refused to move from Eyak was Maude the mule. This fun little piece from the newspaper of the day “The Cordova Alaskan” tells the story.

Maude the mule stands pat

Maude, the faithful mile who has for so many days pulled the cars up and down the tram line in Eyak, or old Cordova, is quite indignant since the “guggs”’ laid down the railroad tracks down her “short line,” and refuses with two or three others, to quit business in the swamp and come to town. The company took it for granted that Maude was a progressive beast and would come over to the new town without any “oats” being offered but they are mistaken, for Maude “stands pat.”

The other day as Boryer, the attorney for the company passed her she kicked at him and acted very “mulish.” In this stand Maude has taken she has three or four followers, so Boryer is negotiating with Maude, hoping that if he can coax her over to Cordova, her friends will follow. He has promised her two bushels of oats and a stable in Cordova for her browsing ground in the swamp. Maude has taken it under advisement.

Our favorite volunteer and researcher — Ira Grindle found this photo of Maude once she turned the corner and came to town led by this gaggle of Cordova children. Thanks to Lone Janson for covering the story of Maude in her book – “The Copper Spike”.

History is so much fun! P.S. Did you know whom ‘the guggs’ refers to? The wealthy financiers of the railroad building in Alaska — the Guggenheim steel magnates of western Pennsylvania.


Cathy Sherman is a volunteer and retired librarian and museum director for the Cordova Historical Museum.