Residents of Albuquerque must have thought the circus had come to town that day in 1857. A caravan of seventy-five camels with Arab and Turkish handlers dressed in their traditional garb arrived en route from Camp Verde Texas to Fort Defiance. Their leader, Major Henry Wayne, was the subject of ridicule and jokes by the locals. To demonstrate their worth he loaded a kneeling camel with 1,256 pounds of baggage, more than four times what a horse could carry, and it stood up and walked away without any effort.
The U.S. Army Camel Corps was officially created in March 1857 and Edward Beale was placed in charge with orders to forge a road from New Mexico to California. Beale completed the task in 48 days, a remarkable feat made possible by the fact that a loaded camel could travel 300 miles in 3 to 4 days without drinking. But there were problems. The troops did not like them and co...
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