Gallup Journey

Page 45

Photo Credit Brooke Whiting

be said of them.” The expedition found that the camels “were capable of packing one thousand pounds apiece and of travelling with their load from thirty to forty miles per day, all the while finding their own feed over an almost barren country.” Along with the camels came the men who knew how to take care of them. Vibrant and charismatic, these men, like the camels, faced similar challenges in a foreign land. Some of these names still live on in legend, like the very colorful Hadji Ali, known better by his counterparts as “Hi Jolly”. These men were essential to the success of the expedition and kept the crew in cheerful spirits. From Grants, the caravan traveled along the route of modern day Highway 53 past El Morro and the Pueblo of Zuni. What a curious sight these camels must have been to the natives, whom from the rooftops watched as they passed through the valley. As the expedition marched onward into Arizona, the camels continued to persevere through the unforgiving desert country. Finally arriving at their destination near Los Angeles on November 10, 1857, the camels were welcomed on the dusty streets by a crowd of curious faces. Having achieved their goal with high praise, the “ships of the desert” proved

Photo Credit Brooke Whiting

to be both effective and adaptive in North America. However, fate would have it that the widespread use of camels would never come to fruition. With the onset of the Civil War and the expansion of railroads west, the allure of the camel became less and less. The government finally gave up on the experiment, eventually selling the camels to various buyers at a loss. The camel mystique, however, lived on for some time, with sightings of wild camels in the Southwest as late as the 1930s. Today, for many Americans, the camel experiment is nothing more than a mirage on the horizon of history, fading slowly into the ambiguity of the past. This September El Morro National Monument is bringing back to life the history of the “United States Camel Corps”. The Camel Corps Commemoration, sponsored by Western National Parks Association, will take place at El Morro National Monument on Saturday, September 10th and Sunday, September 11th. Gates to the monument will open at 9:00am. Programs and presentations on camels will be offered throughout the day, including historical reenactments by camel expert Doug Baum and educational programs by park rangers. Visitors will also have the special opportunity to see camels up close. For more information, please call El Morro Visitor Center at (505) 783-4226 ext. 801, or visit us online at or Come celebrate a day from long ago, when camels walked past El Morro and into the pages of history. September 2016


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