History of Camels in North America

The history of camels in North America actually pre-dates history, with camels appearing on the evolutionary scene about thirty million years ago in the form ofprotylopus, the jackrabbit-sized progenitor from which all modern camels trace their origin. In the 19th century, though, camels were imported from North Africa and the Middle East by the US government to serve as military pack animals for descendants of European settlers crossing the desert Southwest on the heels of the Gold Rush. It's this unique bit of American history that gives rise to the two-centuries old tradition of camel rearing/ranching in the US.

Media about the history of camels

The US Army Camel Experiment

This brief video by Doug Baum tells the story of the U.S. government's unique plan to use camels as pack animals in 19th century desert Southwest.

The Camel Experiment: Meet Doug Baum

Filmmaker Rick Jacques interviews Doug Baum in this micro-documentary, made in conjunction with "The Camel Experiment: The Legend of Hi Jolly," an episode of the Oxford American's Points South podcast.

Allen Public Library Speaker Series

Doug Baum discusses the history of the US Army Texas Experiment at the Allen, TX Public Library.

Fort Concho Speaker Series

Doug Baum discusses the "Texas Camel Corps" at the 2015 Fort Concho Speaker Series in San Angelo, TX

Texas Camel Corps educates visitors on using camels at the Alamo in the 1850's

KENS 5 San Antonio produced this segment on the Texas Camel Corps.


US Army Camel Articles and Resources

Austin Statesman-American: Big Bend treks retrace history of camels in the U.S. Army

Oxford American: The Camel Experiment: The Legend of Hi Jolly

Smithsonian Magazine: Whatever Happened to the Wild Camels of the American West

Smithsonian Magazine: The United States Army Used Camels Until After the Civil War

Armyhistory.org: The U.S. Army's "Camel Corps" Experiment

Task & Purpose: The bizarre yet true story of the US Army Camel Corps

American History: A History of Camels in the US Army

texashighways.com: The Great Camel Experiment

The Historical Marker Database: The U.S. Army Camel Experiment

The History Bandits: Strangers in a Strange Land: Hi Jolly and the U.S. Camel Experiment

texasbob.com: The Camel Experiment

Suggested Reading 

Noble Brutes by Eva Jolene Boyd

Uncle Sam’s Camels: The Journal of May Humphreys Stacey Supplemented by the Report of of Edward Fitzgerald Beale

Camels for Uncle Sam by Diane Yancy

1857 Report of Secretary of War by Jefferson Davis

Lone Star Junction: Echols Camels Journal

For more info contact 

Doug Baum
254-675-HUMP (4867)

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