Camels of the American West

Here is an interesting article a friend found on the “Weird California” website pertaining to camels in the Southwest. Be sure to read the full article as it discusses a rather fascinating myth!

Millions of years ago, camels roamed the North American continent. The camel family evolved here and migrated over into Africa and the Middle East as they slowly died out on this continent. One species of camel even persisted in California until only 15 thousand years ago. Today, old fossils and bones of these ancient camels are still found; as recently as October 2002 down in Long Beach.

But although these camels long died out, rumors, folklore, and legends in the American South West still tell tales of wild camels and even ghost camels wandering the deserts of California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and Texas. Some attribute these sightings to remnants of the US Camel Corps put together back in the mid 1800’s. Although how the camels could survive until today or if they have been reproducing in the wild is a mystery. A few states once had laws on the books preventing the use of camels on certain highways, a result of problems occurring with camel use shortly after the closure of the US Camel Corps. Nevada, for example, passed a law in February of 1875 prohibiting camels and dromedaries from running at large on public roads in the state. The act was repealed in 1899.


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