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Camels in the West


CAMELS IN THE WEST. In 1855 Congress appropriated $30,000 to purchase camels for use on express routes across the 529,189 square miles of territory acquired during the Mexican-American War. In 1856 and 1857, over one hundred camels carried mail across this desert country. They were sold at auction in 1864, most to carry freight to and from Nevada mines. Others remained in Texas in circuses and zoological gardens. Between 1860 and 1862, Otto Esche, a German merchant, brought forty-five camels from Siberia to San Francisco for use on eastbound express routes, although he sold most of them to a mining company in British Columbia. Years later, wild camels still roamed the Northwest, Nevada, and especially Arizona. Wild American camels are now extinct.


Lesley, Lewis B., ed. "Uncle Sam's Camels." California Historical Society Quarterly (1930).

A. A.Gray/c. w.

See alsoMail, Overland, and Stagecoaches ; Pack Trains .

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