From Yuma we traveled 95 north to Quartzsite, “Q” to the locals and most snowbirds, and spent a few nights in the BLM boondocking area called Hi Jolly. I did errands from there: picked up mail, bought supplies, took the boys to the dog park. Little stinkers can sure figure out where we are headed and they begin play inside the van in prep for the park. You know, get those muscle warmed up!
Once we got all the necessary things taken care of and put in a few days of doing nothing but catching up on rest–not the Chiweenie Brothers, they are always ready to rumble, but I needed it–we went out exploring a bit, taking in some of the sights and places we didn’t get to last year. Between those excursions and the things I needed to get done for Christmas and the December birthdays for family back in Cali, the month flew by. And here it is 2018! Let’s make it a happy one!
The best place to start with sharing our exploration in Q is with where it all started, and with the man who’s nickname lives on in this little town in the Sonoran Desert.
According to the Quartzsite Visitor’s Guide, the Hi Jolly Pioneer Cemetery is the most visited location in Q. It centers around the man, Hi Jolly, and some camels. Here’s what transpired to give Q some of its unique personality. It all started with a camel driver.
It began in 1855 when Jefferson Davis, secretary of war and later president of the Confederacy, was sold on the idea of importing camels to use building the wagon road through the Southwest. They needed men who spoke camel, and the famed camel driver, Philip Tedro, a Greek born in Syria was contacted. Tedro had made a pilgrimage to Mecca, converted to Islam and his first name became Hadji Ali.
Tedro and another camel driver, Yiorgos Caralambo–he became known as Greek George–were hired to teach the soldiers how to deal with the camels. The soldiers couldn’t pronounce Hadji Ali and he became known as Hi Jolly.
Camels can carry two to three times as much as a mule and can go without water much longer than mules and horses, and they were a great success.
Then the Civil War started, and Jefferson Davis changed jobs; without his support the project was abandoned. Some camels were sold, others had escaped out into the desert.
Hi Jolly bought a couple of them and for two years ran a freight route between the Colorado River and the mining towns in eastern Arizona.
Hi Jolly became a citizen of the United States in 1880, married Gertrudis Serna of Tucson, and when he retired moved to Quartzsite and prospected around the region until he died in 1902.
The escaped camels thrived for a while, but eventually they died out. However, as late as the 1930s and ’40s unsubstantiated reports were made of seeing camels in the wild. One sighting in particular, the story goes, was of the Red Camel, spotted with a headless human skeleton on its back …
You can visit the cemetery with it’s monument tribute to the camel driver, Hi Jolly, at the Hi Jolly Pioneer Cemetery on the west side of town.
Thanks for stopping by 2Dogs! Have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Hugs, Shawna