Raul Jusinto

Camels


The Camel Corps
This photo dates back to the 1860s.

The Camel Corps
Gwinn Heap illustration for Jefferson Davis' report to the Senate in 1857.

Nevada Historical Marker 104 reads:

In 1855, Congress authorized $30,000.00 for camels as frontier military beasts of burden because of their adaptability to desert heat, drought, and food.

Lt. Edward F. Beale surveyed the wagon route from Fort Defiance, New Mexico, to the Colorado River near the tip of present-day Nevada, testing the fitness of these camels. They crossed the Colorado River into what is today Nevada, north to Fort Mohave, October 18, 1857.

The experiment was not practical, but several of Beale’s camels hauled commercial freight from Sacramento to the Nevada territory. Others carried salt, ore, and supplies through central Nevada.

Careless treatment, domestic stock incompatibility and new transportation methods ended use of camels. Some were reportedly seen years later wandering in southwest deserts, making them a fixture of western folklore.

Queho Posse Chapter 1919 E Clampus Vitus marker reads:

After the United States government's successful experiment with camels in the west in 1857, entrepreneurs saw possibilities in the ungainly beasts for carrying supplies. In addition to the government's camels, which were sold off by 1864, two private shipments were brought in to Texas, and three into San Francisco, with over 200 eventually imported. Companies were formed to utilize camels from British Columbia to Mexico. In Nevada, civilian use of camels included transporting salt and lumber to the Comstock, and later running caravans through southern Nevada to Arizona. When business slowed, the camels were let loose in the desert where they flourished, until some local tribes and settlers discovered their meat was good to eat. Though still seen as late as the early twentieth century, camels eventually disappeared from the desert southwest, but their memory lived on in tales told around the campfire.

Event Location: Present-day southern Clark County.