Camels in the West
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.