Two Wild Beasts With Humps On Their Backs!

29 May
English: Photo taken 189? Photographer: Unknow...

Photo taken 189? Photographer: Unknown Source #A-00347 Category:British Columbia public domain photographs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was a dangerous, hard journey on May 29, 1861 when Governor Douglas began a tour to see how roads could be built into the interior.  Gold had been discovered in the arid Cariboo country. How could he build a road 500 miles long, through difficult country, with only 20,000 people in British Columbia to pay for it?

Douglas managed to get the miners to help build the road voluntarily, and Royal Engineers sent out from Britain built roads, parts of which can be seen today.  They deserved the slogan used by United States Marines: “The impossible we do at once.  The miraculous takes a little longer.”

Mule trains consisted of sixteen mules, each carrying 250 pounds of freight, were used to carry the supplies along the narrow trails, covering about 10 miles a day.  Teamster Frank Laumeister had the amazing idea that camels would be better.  They could carry more freight and last longer without water.  This was important in the hot, dry Cariboo country.  Somehow, Laumeister managed to buy twenty-one camels and began using them on the trail.  It looked as though he would make a fortune.  Each camel carried 1,000 pounds and made about 30 miles a day.  He overlooked one problem: camels smell awful!

When they passed a mule train, the mules would be terrified, dash into the woods, or fall down the canyon and be killed.  Jackass Mountain is supposed to be named after a mule train that had dashed down the canyon to death.  Laumeister was involved in so many lawsuits that he had to abandon the plan. There is an amusing story about the arrival of the camels in Victoria on their way to the Fraser.  A small boy came running home and told his father breathlessly that he had seen two wild beasts with humps on their backs coming along the road.  Although he could hardly believe the boy, his father took a heavy stick and went to see for himself.  A Victoria paper reported the incident:

“As soon as his eyes fastened upon the monsters, his own courage departed, and with blanched cheek and trembling steps he hastily regained the shelter of his own home.”

Pretty amazing when you think about it, eh?  To read more about this, I suggest visiting the Society of the Old West; and go see a .pdf of The Cariboo Camels by John Stewart; and lastly BC Heritage for a fun read!


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11 responses to “Two Wild Beasts With Humps On Their Backs!

  1. L. Marie

    May 30, 2013 at 9:31 am

    I started giggling the moment I saw “Jackass Mountain.” And I love this quote: “The impossible we do at once. The miraculous takes a little longer.”

    • tkmorin

      May 30, 2013 at 9:37 am

      I’ve always liked that quote. I’m glad you enjoy my posts, L.! 🙂

  2. Mark Armstrong

    May 29, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Whoa!! Love that photo! I’m goin’ down to the local used camel dealer tomorrow and get me one. And I guess I’d better remember to pick up a gas mask as well… : P

    A wild and crazy post, T.K., and mighty enjoyable, too. I suspect some of my ancestors came from Jackass Mountain… : )

    • tkmorin

      May 29, 2013 at 7:34 pm


      Thanks! 🙂

  3. cindybruchman

    May 29, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    That’s crazy! Great post. Who’d of thought camels in Canada. Say, great name for a title of a book! : )

    • tkmorin

      May 29, 2013 at 7:02 pm

      Before I read this, I would have said that camels in Canada was a ridiculous notion! Goes to show you, never say never!


  4. Greg Ward

    May 29, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Just a I started to admire Mr Laumeister, I spat out my drink laughing at the camel smell lawsuits. Awesome story!

    • tkmorin

      May 29, 2013 at 10:19 am

      I think I should have put a warning to put drinks down until the end of the post. 🙂

  5. seeker

    May 29, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Happy Hump Day, Ms. Tk. I saw your name in Shaun’s site. Now you and Rufus have one each, no fighting. 😆

    P.S. May I use the picture as a future post credit to you. Have a good day. Time for work. Ugh.

    • tkmorin

      May 29, 2013 at 10:17 am

      I can always distract him with catnip while I borrow his award … (Grin).

      Yes, I have about a dozen awards I have to deal soon!

      Of course you may use anything you want!! 🙂


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