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Muleshoe, Texas
—  City  —
The National Mule Memorial at the Muleshoe Chamber of Commerce office
Location of Muleshoe, Texas
Coordinates: 34°13′40″N 102°43′46″W / 34.22778°N 102.72944°W / 34.22778; -102.72944Coordinates: 34°13′40″N 102°43′46″W / 34.22778°N 102.72944°W / 34.22778; -102.72944
Country United States
State Texas
County Bailey
 - Mayor Cliff Black
 - Total 3.4 sq mi (8.9 km2)
 - Land 3.4 sq mi (8.9 km2)
 - Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 3,793 ft (1,156 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 4,530
 - Density 1,323.9/sq mi (511.1/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 79347
Area code(s) 806
FIPS code 48-49968[1]
GNIS feature ID 1375067[2]

Muleshoe is a small city in Bailey County, Texas, United States. The town of Muleshoe was founded in 1913 when the Pecos and Northern Texas Railway built an 88 mile rail from Farwell, Texas to Lubbock, Texas through northern Bailey County. In 1926 Muleshoe was officially incorporated. The population was 4,530 at the 2000 census. The county seat of Bailey County,[3] it is home to the National Mule Memorial.

The Muleshoe Heritage Center located off the combined U.S. Routes 70 and 84 is a popular museum which commemorates the importance of ranching to West Texas. The complex has several unique buildings originally from Bailey County that display the living conditions of the area in the late-19th century and the early to mid-20th century.

The Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge is located some twenty miles to the south on State Highway 214. Founded in 1935, the Muleshoe Wildlife Refuge is the oldest in the state of Texas. It is a 5,000-acre wintering area for migratory waterfowl flying from Canada to Mexico. It contains the largest number of sandhill cranes in North America.[4].



The name Muleshoe in the region can be traced back to Henry Black when he registered a brand on November 12, 1860. In 1877, He purchased three houses on a 40,000 acres in Stephens County, naming it Muleshoe Ranch. Later he built a large ranch house and a log schoolhouse, established a small cemetery for family members. [5] Muleshoe Ranch was supposedly named after the owner found a mule shoe in the soil.

On April 23, 1906, the Gulf, Santa Fe and Northwestern Railway Company and the Pecos and Northern Texas Railway Company merged and were chartered to construct a railway between Lubbock, Texas and Farwell, Texas on the New Mexico border. From 1901 to 1915, communities along the future railway contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to construction.[6] Muleshoe was founded in 1913 when the Pecos and Northern Texas Railway laid rails across northern Bailey county; residents borrowed the name from the nearby Muleshoe Ranch.[7]

Soon after the railroad passed through Muleshoe, the town expanded rapidly. In 1917 Muleshoe became the county seat after the county was organized, but it was not incorporated until 1926. Muleshoe continued to grow quickly, and by 1930 there were 800 residents in the town. Three decades later Muleshoe tripled in population to 3,871. In 1970 Muleshoe reached its pinnacle at over 5,000 residents, 200 businesses, two hospitals, two banks, a library, a newspaper, and a radio station.

Main Street in downtown Muleshoe

During the 1970s and 1980s the population stagnated, and by the 1990s Muleshoe's population began to decrease. The population went from 5,048 in 1988 to 4,530 in 2000.[8] The once lively and vibrant Main Street is now quiet with many abandoned buildings. Many of the businesses that once called Main Street home are now on American Boulevard (US Highway 84/70).

During the early 1960s Texas residents were eager to build a memorial to the mule for his strength and sparse eating habits, traits which endeared him to the pioneers. In war, the mule carried cannon; in peace, he hauled freight. His small hooves allowed him to scale rocky areas.[9] The Mule Memorial was first displayed on July 4, 1965 near the intersection of US 70/84.[10] Muleshoe is the home of the world's largest mule shoe found at the Muleshoe Heritage Center.


City limits sign for Muleshoe
One of the many grain elevators that are indigenous to the area. Also in the foreground is the Muleshoe City Park

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 4,530 people, 1,595 households, and 1,178 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,323.9 people per square mile (511.4/km2). There were 1,802 housing units at an average density of 526.6/sq mi (203.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 63.27% White, 1.50% African American, 0.64% Native American, 0.20% Asian, 31.59% from other races, and 2.80% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 53.33% of the population.

There were 1,595 households out of which 38.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.3% were married couples living together, 8.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.1% were non-families. 24.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.80 and the average family size was 3.35.

In the city the population was spread out with 31.3% under the age of 18, 9.1% from 18 to 24, 25.1% from 25 to 44, 19.8% from 45 to 64, and 14.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 92.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $25,519, and the median income for a family was $31,969. Males had a median income of $23,409 and females a median income $16,053. The per capita income for the city was $12,567. In 2007, the median house value was $48,748, and the average house value $66,525. In 2008 cost of living index in Muleshoe was 73.3 as compared to the U.S. average of 100. About 13.4% of families and 18.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.9% of those under age 18 and 13.6% of those age 65 or over.


Muleshoe is located at 34°13′40″N 102°43′46″W / 34.227816°N 102.729361°W / 34.227816; -102.729361.[11] with an elevation of 3,793 ft above sea level. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.4 square miles (8.9 km2), all of it land. Muleshoe lies on the western extreme of the Central Standard Time Zone, just 17 miles east of the Mountain Standard Time Zone.

Muleshoe is situated on the Great Plains in an area where the plains reach their highest altitude at the foot of the Rocky Mountains known as the High Plains; more specifically it is located on the South Plains in a region known as the Llano Estacado. The area topology is gently rolling plains with a large number of playa lakes on top of a large plateau. Many of the playa lakes have dried out due to the water exploitation of the Ogallala Aquifer that helped supply water to the lakes during dry seasons. Soil types vary from dark brown playa lake silt to iron rich clay to sandy soil; topsoil and subsoil layers vary as well. Most of the area contains a layer of caliche; in some areas there is no topsoil or subsoil revealing the layer of caliche while other places have up to four feet of topsoil or subsoil combined.

Irrigated fields between Muleshoe and Farwell

Muleshoe lies over the largest aquifer in the United States, the Ogallala Aquifer. The aquifer provides all of the city's water and is essential for the agriculture for the surrounding area. The aquifer is being depleted at an increasing rate over the years; this has triggered many changes in agriculture in efforts to try and preserve this natural resource.

The physical characteristics of the region makes Muleshoe an ideal place for agriculture. Much of the natural habitat of grasslands and shrubs has been replaced by cash crops and livestock, but a few areas of native fauna (called CRP) are preserved. About 20 miles south of Muleshoe there is a system of sink lakes found at the Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is a wintering area for large numbers of migratory waterfowl and sandhill cranes and preserves much of the native wildlife.


Muleshoe is in an area considered part of the semi-arid steppe climate zone that extends from areas of central Mexico to southern Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada. The semi-arid steppe classifaction identifies areas that are intermediate between desert zones and humid zones. This West Texas town experiences hot summer days and cool summer nights and cool to warm winter days and harsh cold winter nights. Rainfall is low; the town and vicinity receive less than 18 inches of rainfall annually. High summer temperatures (average July temperature above 90 °F) precipitation moisture is rapidly lost to evaporation. Muleshoe experiences steady, and sometimes intense, winds from the north and west in the Fall and Winter and winds from the south or west in the Spring and Summer. The winds add a considerable wind chill factor in the winter.

Shortgrass prairie, prickly pear cacti and scrub vegetation are the most common fauna to be seen around town. Agriculture in the forms of cattle ranching, dairy farming, and wheat and cotton farming are the most prevalent in the area.

Weather data for Muleshoe, Texas
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 52
Average low °F (°C) 20
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.43
Source: [12] July 6, 2009


Muleshoe is served by the Muleshoe Independent School District. Schools include:

  • Muleshoe High School (Grades 9-12)
  • Watson Junior High School (Grades 6-8)
  • Mary DeShazo Elementary School (Grades 3-5)
  • Neal B. Dillman Elementary School (Grades PK-2)

Over the past few years the Muleshoe Independent School District has expanded all of its campuses to accommodate the growing population of school aged children.The Muleshoe High School teams are known as "The Mules"; the school colors are black and white.

There is also a branch of South Plains College which provides classes for students aspiring to become Licensed Vocational Nurses. The branch is located near the hospital.


The town is the home of the annual Tour de Muleshoe bicycle ride, a local competition which features 100K, 40 mile, and 10 mile bike tours every year.

The original "Leal's Mexican Food Restaurant" is located in Muleshoe. Jesse Leal and his wife Irma opened a small tortilla factory in 1957 on the edge of town that also served many traditional Mexican dishes. They envisioned a full-fledged restaurant and in 1968 "El Nuevo Leal's Restaurant" opened on American Boulevard (US Highway 84). Leal's family has spread the "Leal's magic" to several cities in Texas as well as Clovis, New Mexico, as well as putting their signature tortilla chips and hot sauces into regional grocery stores. Leal died on November 6, 2009. in Clovis.

Muleshoe is home of "The MuleTrain News" On Channel 6/ Gil Lamb Advertising. The program has been on radio and cable television since the 1950s.

Notable residents and natives

  • Harvey Lee Bass (October 11, 1918–February 7, 2007) was a businessman and the Bailey County Democratic Party chairman for more than a quarter century. He operated an appliance and furniture store for fifty years and served on many boards and commissions designed to promote the image of Muleshoe. A native of Jones County in central Texas, Bass worked for Burleson-Garrett Engineering and laid telephone line in east Texas. Prior to World War II, he worked for North American Aviation in California, having helped to build P-51 Mustangs and B-25 bombers. Bass was a deacon in the Primitive Baptist Church and taught church singing schools throughout Texas and Oklahoma. After the war, he returned to Texas to join with a brother-in-law, Afton Richards, to publish the Aspermont Star, a weekly newspaper in Aspermont in Stonewall County near Abilene in west Texas. Prior to Bass' tenure, The Star was briefly owned and operated by former State Senator Marshall Formby.[13] It is now called the Stonewall County Courier.[14] Bass and Richards also took over the publication for a time of The Banner of Love, a Primitive Baptist monthly newspaper first published in 1932 in Lubbock.[15] After his health declined, Bass moved from Muleshoe to Snyder, the seat of Scurry County. He is interred at Snyder Cemetery.[14]
  • Frank Harrison Ellis, Jr. (September 13, 1927–December 17, 2009), was a mortician, director of the First Bank of Muleshoe, and a community leader who served on the Muleshoe City Council. The Amarillo native graduated from the Landig College of Mortuary Science in Houston. He was co-owner of Ellis Funeral Homes in Muleshoe, Earth, Morton, and Sudan. He formerly owned funeral homes in Friona, Stephenville in Erath County, and Odessa. He was a past president of the trade association, the Texas Funeral Directors Association. The Panhandle association twice honored as "Funeral Director of the Year". Survivors included his wife, the former Marcella "Sally" Pingel, whom he married in 1950; three sons, Frank "Trey" Ellis and wife Tracy of Friona, Dan Ellis and wife Teresa of Smithville, and Todd Ellis and wife Starla of Muleshoe; a sister, Berna Ruth Ellis of Amarillo; seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Services were held on December 21 at the First United Methodist Church of Muleshoe. Interment was at Muleshoe Memorial Park Cemetery.[16]
  • Magnus D. Gunstream (1922-2008) of Muleshoe was one of the organizers of First National Bank, now the First Bank of Muleshoe. Gunstream, who also maintained a residence in Ruidoso, New Mexico, was born in Childress County. He graduated from high school in Memphis, the seat of Hall County, and served in the United States Navy during World War II. Gunstream studied banking under Thomas E. Noel (1994-1996), president of First National Bank of Memphis, and was the cashier of the Memphis bank before he relocated in 1955 to Muleshoe.[17]
  • Jesse Leal ( -November 6, 2009) founded the original Leal's Restaurant in Muleshoe in 1957. The chain originated with a small tortilla factory. In 1968, Leal opened a full restaurant on American Boulevard. Over the succeeding decades, five other Leal's branded outlets opened in Amarillo, Plainview, Henrietta, and two in Clovis, New Mexico. In the mid-1990's the Leal's restaurant in Muleshoe was moved to another location on American Boulevard. Leal died in Clovis.

Other notable Muleshoe residents include former businesspersons Joe Bailey Duke, Sr., and Norma Ruth Duke, Oscar and Erma Ray, Murray and Geneva Lemons, and the Wagnons.


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  4. ^ Texas Historical Commission marker, Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge, 1985
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Texas Historical Commission marker, National Mule Memorial
  10. ^
  11. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  12. ^ "Average Weather for Muleshoe, Texas". The Weather Channel. Retrieved July 6, 2009.  
  13. ^ "Marshall Formby". Retrieved December 18, 2009.  
  14. ^ a b "Obituary of Harvey Lee Bass". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, February 9, 2007. Retrieved December 19, 2009.  
  15. ^ Welcome
  16. ^ "Obituary of Frank H. Ellis". Retrieved December 19, 2009.  
  17. ^ M.D. Gunstream | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

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