Saturday, March 14, 2015

Camels in the Arizona Desert?


Yes, apparently back in history, camels were imported to this area in southwestern Arizona.  In 1857 the U S Army thought it would be a great idea to use camels in the desert. A Syrian born man known by the nickname Hi Jolly was hired as a “Camel Herder” for an experimental expedition in the desert.

There were a total of about 40 camels that were taken with wagons from Fort Defiance to California and apparently worked out well. Unfortunately, when the camels were brought back to what is now the Quartzsite area, the Army scrapped the project and the animals were left to their own devices in the desert. The official Army statement was that the project was a failure, but some of the officers felt that the project was not given a fair chance. Unfortunately, the animals did not thrive in this area and the population slowly dwindled.

The tomb of Hi Jolly, in the cemetery named for him, has a marker in the shape of a pyramid, with a statue of a camel on the top. There is also a time capsule, which is said to contain the ashes of his favorite camel. This pyramid marker is listed on the National Register of Historical Places.

It just happens that the BLM land I'm staying on has been named Hi Jolly. Before I got here, I wondered about that name.


  1. What a shame, this is lost history that should be told.

    1. It's not really lost history as long as you're visiting this area. And I am trying to spread the word. Glad you enjoyed it.

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