Twentynine Palms Historical Society

29 Palms Historical Society News - The History of Hi-Jolly and the Great Camel Experiment in the Southwest

From: "29 Palms Historical Society News" <webmaster@PROTECTED>
Subject: 29 Palms Historical Society News - The History of Hi-Jolly and the Great Camel Experiment in the Southwest
Date: December 9th 2021

Friday, December 10, Old Schoolhouse Lecture
"The History of Hi-Jolly and the Great Camel Experiment in the Southwest".

"The History of Hi Jolly and the Great Camel Experiment in the Southwest" takes us back to the United States in the days leading up to the Civil War. The country was conflicted over the issue of slavery, and at the same time was expanding westward at a breakneck pace. With that rapid expansion came the need to transport men and supplies across the vast arid region of the Southwest. Prominent Americans, including Jefferson Davis, looked to the desert lands of the Middle East and asked themselves what could be better suited to desert transportation than the fabled "ship of the desert?"

Thanks to the advocacy of Davis and others, who often had less than patriotic reasons for their support, the U.S. Army's "camel corps" was established. One man, whose name we know as "Hi Jolly," became the Army's legendary camel driver. There is much we don't know, or have gotten wrong about Hi Jolly - even his name. Journalist and historian, Steve Brown, will take us on a journey through the facts and legend of Hi Jolly, and the great camel experiment. It's a story of sultans and emirs, the emerging Confederacy and the Union, the opening of the West, the Ottoman Empire, slave runners and entrepreneurs, and one man whose knowledge of camels brought him from the Middle East to become an enduring - and endearing - part of American history and lore. Yes, Robert E. Lee will make a guest appearance.

Steve Brown is a journalist and historian who currently produces Southwest Stories, a regional travel series for national PBS distribution, Southwest Stories magazine, and historical documentary videos and television programming in partnership with the Oregon-California Trails Association, the Amargosa Conservancy, and other organizations. His latest production, "History and Change on the Old Spanish Trail: Mountain Springs to Salt Creek," debuts on KVCR PBS TV on December 26. AramcoWorld magazine published Brown's story, "Hi Jolly - Uncle Sam's Camel Captain," in March 2021.

Join Steve Brown at the Old Schoolhouse for this in-person lecture series at the 29 Palms Historical Society, 6760 National Park Drive, on Friday, December 10 at 7 pm. Admission is $5 at the door.


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