The Gold Rush in British Columbia, Canada
saw many inventive, wild and wacky ideas.
One of those were ... camels.
23 camels were brought to BC in 1862
by John C. Calbreath (or Callbreath, spellings vary.)
He decided that camels could carry heavier loads for longer distances
than donkeys, mules or horses, and were
more sure footed. And besides, everyone knows
camels don't need much water. Right?
Camels are tempermental critters at best.
And a wee bit cranky when the mood hits them.
These particular 23 camels had the habit of
biting mules, oxen and even men.
Well, really, it's a hard life carrying loads
at the whim of miners, I'd be snarly, too.
What's a camel to do?
Camels hoofs are perfectly adapted for
walking the sands of deserts, and also
perfectly adapted for kicking things.
It's been reported that the
camels were even fitted with ... shoes for
walking over the rough trails and jagged rocks
of the Gold Rush trails. I kid you not.
A camel kicks, give it shoes to kick harder. But I digress.
The sight of the double humped bactrian camels
caused many kerfuffles, too. Horses bolted at the mere sight
of them, and apparently their smell was, well, smelly.
By 1864,the experiment a failure, the poor animals were turned loose to
forge for themselves.
Henry Ingram saved three of the camels,
and "Lady", the last surviving bactrian,
died in 1896 (again, dates vary in the literature).
The bridge at Lillooet was
dedicated to these
illustrious, often misunderstood, animals.