- Carson River Basin, Lyon County, Nevada.
- Located along Old U.S. Highway 50 in Dayton, Nevada.
CAMELS IN DAYTON
Camels were imported into the United
States for military purposes in the mid-1850's. Lt. Edward Beale of the
U.S. Army tested the animals caravan operations in the deserts of the
Southwest. The experiment was not successful and the camels were
auctioned off. Some were brought here to haul wood and salt to the
mines and mills of the Comstock. They were corralled behind this stone
hay barn, known as the Leslie Hay Barn. Used extensively between
Sacramento and Nevada points for some ten years, they were later
abandoned to fend for themselves. Few were seen after the 1880's. http://www.scvhistory.com/scvhistory/hijolly-ap.htm
| || || || || || || || ||Hi Jolly And The U.S. Camel Corps.|
Prospector Convinced Arizona Still Has Camels.
By WILLIAM C. BARNARD
Associated Press, 1940s. [Nov. 21; year unknown.]
[CLICK HERE FOR COLOR IMAGES]
Ariz. — When the desert cools this winter ... when the burn is gone
from the sand and the dry air packs a brisk tang, old Bill Keiser is
going to get himself a pair of binoculars and look for wild camels.
at the site of Hi Jolly's tomb reads:
and right) Hi Jolly's tomb in Quartzsite, Ariz. Vacation photos (1940s) showing Lt. Col.
Henry Kendall, U.S. Army Engineer, of Shelby, N.C.
famous camel herd with which the name of Hi Jolly is linked constitutes an interesting
sidelight of Arizona history ... Jefferson Davis (afterward President of the Southern Confederacy)
as secretary of war approved a plan to experiment with camels for freighting and communication
in the arid Southwest ... Major Henry C. Wayne, of the U.S. Army, and Lt. D.D. Porter (later a
distinguished admiral of the Civil War) visited the Levant with the storeship "Supply"
and procured 33 camels which were landed at Indianola, Texas, February 10, 1856. 41 were added
on a second voyage ... With the first camels came, as caretaker, Hadji Ali, whose Arabic name
was promptly changed to "Hi Jolly" by the soldiers, and by this name he became universally
known. His Greek name was Phillip Tedro ... On the Beale expedition (1857) to open a wagon road
across Arizona from Fort Defiance to California, the camels, under Jolly's charge, proved their
worth ... Nevertheless the war department abandoned the experiment and the camels were left
on the Arizona desert to shift for themselves, chiefly roaming this particular section. They
survived for many years, creating interest and excitement ... Officially the camel experiment was
a failure, but both Lt. Beale and Major Wayne were enthusiastic in praise of the animals. A
fair trial might have resulted in complete success.
now old Bill, a retired prospector and one of the few residents left in
this ghost town, is content to sit on his front porch, shielded from
the heat waves that dance in the street, and speculate about the
He's pretty sure he'll find those wild camels, descendants, he says, of animals brought to this country nearly 100 years ago.
are sure signs that camels are in these parts," Keiser explained. "Just
the other day, for instance, a prospector from St. Louis found fresh
camel tracks in the hills a few miles from here."
Davis, as secretary of war in President Pierce's cabinet, approved the
plan to experiment with camels for freighting and communication in the
arid Southwest. Maj. Henry C. Wayne of the army and Lt. D.D. Porter of
the navy visited the Near East with the storeship Supply and brought 33 camels which were landed at Indianola, Tex., Feb. 10, 1856. On a second trip they got 41 more.
Trip Is Attraction
the first shipment came a caretaker, a short, heavyset, happy-go-lucky
Arab named Hadji Ali, whose name was promptly changed to "Hi Jolly" by
the soldiers. Today, Hi Jolly's tomb is this town's only attraction.
Texas base for the camels was Camp Verde, a frontier outpost in Kerr
county. On the Beale expedition (1857) to open a wagon road across
Arizona from Fort Defiance to California, the camels, under Hi Jolly,
proved their worth.
the war department abandoned the experiment and the camels were left to
shift for themselves on the Arizona desert.
Keiser, tough, tanned and 73, got a swig of cool water from the well at the side of his porch.
tell you why the government quit fooling with the camels," he said. "It
wasn't because they didn't do a good job. They could carry a thousand
pounds of freight 65 miles a day and they went three days without
water. But they scared hell out of every varmint that sighted ëem and
they caused plenty of trouble.
Jolly told me all about it. Those camels were lonesome for the caravans
of their home country and every time they sighted a prospector's mule
train they'd make a break for it. You've heard of how horses bolted at
the sight of the first automobiles. That wasn't anything compared to
the fright those ugly, loping camels threw into mules. The mules would
lay back their ears and run for their lives and then the prospectors
would cuss and reach for their guns and shoot at the camels. A lot of
camels got killed that way.
Government Gave Up
raised so much cain that finally the government just gave up and let
the camels go. They found enough food to keep alive ... they'll eat
just about anything they can bite, you know ... and they chased mules
and aggravated prospectors for many years."
army never explained officially why it abandoned the experiment.
Perhaps they proved uneconomical or perhaps the Arizona desert country
was too tough for them. Keiser said the rocks hurt the camels' feet.
For a time, Hi Jolly wrapped their feet in burlap. Later a special shoe
was fashioned for the animals' split toes. The shoes never proved
really satisfactory as they didn't keep rocks out from between the
Jolly was grieved to lose his animals but took up scouting for the army
and also did some mining. He died in Quartzsite Dec. 16, 1902, at the
age of 64. The Arizona highway department has built a tomb for him ...
a pyramid of quartz and petrified wood topped by a tin figure of a
camel. "The last camp of Hi Jolly," a sign says.
native of Pennsylvania, Keiser ran away from home when he was 14. He
punched cattle in Texas, once loaded beer barrels in San Antonio and
came out to Arizona in 1894. Two sons, Marion and Edgar, live at
Keiser pointed a weatherbeaten hand down the deserted street.
used to be a mighty lively place," he said. "Once there was eight
saloons, right along there. Liquor killed a lot more badmen than
bullets ever did.
"It sure is quiet here now ... nothing to do but get old and stay out of the sun.
"This winter, though, I'll be hunting camels. Maybe I'll get me a camel for Christmas."
THE LAST CAMP OF HI JOLLY
BORN SOMEWHERE IN SYRIA ABOUT 1828
DIED AT QUARTZSITE DECEMBER 16 1902
CAME TO THIS COUNTRY FEBRUARY 10 1856
CAMELDRIVER -- PACKER -- SCOUT --
OVER THIRTY YEARS A FAITHFUL AID TO THE U.S. GOVERNMENT
ARIZONA HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT 1935