Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Camels in the West


Camels in the West

www.laurirobinson.blogspot.com


Evenings around our house often consist of my husband surfing channels on the TV from the couch and me writing on my laptop in the recliner. A few nights ago, he stopped on a ‘documentary’ that caught my attention. 

Before the Civil War, the army, while trying to create a supply route from Texas to California, imported several camels, believing the animals would fare and perform better than mules and horses. The plan didn’t work as well as they hoped. It turned out the camels were unruly and rather nasty, and many of the men were afraid of them. 

When the War broke out, the army men in Texas released the camels and relocated to the East. For years, people claimed to see a strange red beast carrying a headless rider on its back. Several events kept the story alive. A woman, home alone, was found trampled to death and huge, unidentifiable hoof prints surrounded her body as well as clumps of strange red hair. Others found such evidence too, miners awaken by strange noises, would discover red hair and huge hoof prints in the morning, and still more claimed to see the beast on the horizon. 

Eventually a farmer shot the beast which turned out to be a camel. It still wore a military saddle that was said to have frayed ropes indicating something had been tied in the saddle at one time. The show went on to claim that years before an army man had been tied into his saddle while learning to ride one of the camels and lost control of the mount. Others pursued the animal, but to no avail and eventually had to give up. It was assumed the man died from thirst/hunger while strapped on the animal’s back and his corpse remained atop the camel until decaying enough to fall off. 

No, I don’t have a camel in one of my upcoming stories, I just found the story unusual enough to repeat. 



 

6 comments:

  1. Lauri, did you see the comedy movie "Hawmps" years ago? It was about the experiment with camels. When we launched Sweethearts of the West, the first blog was one on camels, but different than yours today.

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  2. No, Caroline, I haven't seen it. Until the show the other night, I'd never heard of the camels in the west.

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  3. I knew about the camels as my mother found a photo that showed quite a few camels at a military establishment in Vallejo, California while doing our genealogy. I can barely remember what they looked like, but believe there were saddles and they were all tied at the front of the building. She donated it to a museum in Vallejo. I have heard they are really nasty beasts.

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  4. Oh, Lauri! The Camels of the West was our first post on Sweethearts, about four years ago, if you can believe it. But believe me, it was different from yours...Completely different. I never knew that someone had been trampled, and the story of the frayed saddle?...never heard that.
    I can't remember who thought this was a good idea, but it was such a weird story, it became almost a legend.
    So, you don't have a camel in your story? Neither would I. I don't like them, their looks, or anything about them. Obviously, though, they have been a valuable animal in some parts of the world.
    In the American West? An experiment that went awry.
    Thanks for this!

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  5. Lauri, I've heard about the imported camels but never about the rider strapped to one's back. That's a pretty gruesome tale. Interesting stuff! Thanks for sharing.

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  6. LOL Leave it to you to find the interesting stuff! I'd heard about the camels being used by the army and some let loose, but I didn't know about the sightings an stompings. Kind of like Big Foot! Great post!

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