Hi Jolly Monument
Located in Quartzsite Cemetery in Quartzsite, Arizona, is a monument to Hi Jolly (Hadji Ali, حاج علي) and the U.S. Army Camel Corps he helped found. The Camel Corps was active from 1856-1866, but the Civil War interfered with the experiment. The 70 camels were sold at auction after the the unit was disbanded in 1866. It was disbanded because Jefferson Davis had been supporting the experiment as the U.S. Secretary of War before he became president of the Confederacy. However, the large camels also spooked native livestock and horses. The monument was built in 1934 and dedicated in 1935. It is made from local stone and topped with a copper camel. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Backstory and Context
The United States Camel Corps is a little known experiment carried out in the southwest United States in the mid-1800s. Jefferson Davis, then Secretary of War, decided camels would be a good alternative to horses when transporting goods through the desert. He believed the camels would be particularly useful for military purposes in the southwest. In 1855, $30,000 was spent on the project.
A Greek-Syrian man, known as Hi Jolly (Hadji Ali, حاج علي, but born as Philip Tedro), had a great impact on this movement. He became the leader of the camel drive. After importing just over 70 camels, experiments were done testing the usefulness of these foreign animals. The camels proved to be useful on several survey missions led by army lieutenants. The camels could navigate the terrain and go long periods without water.
Although the camels were useful in certain situations, the outbreak of the Civil War left the project forgotten. The majority of the camels were sold to private farmers, although some were left in the wild. Hi Jolly remained in the United States and lived until 1902. Jolly worked several different jobs, including a courier.
Upon his death, Jolly was buried in what is now known as Quartzsite, Arizona. It wasn't until 1934 that Arizona Department of Transportation decided to build a monument atop his grave. The monument is in the shape of a pyramid. A brass plaque and camel are also included in the monument. The grave has since become the resting site for other pioneer figures. The monument is a unique historic site that is easy to find when visiting Arizona.
Quartzsite, Arizona is known as "The Rock Capital of the World." The town got its name from quartz that was found in the area. The town was established on what was originally Fort Tyson, a means of protection against Native American raids. For a town with only 3,500 permanent residents, it is home to several popular tourist attractions.
Quartzsite is also the the self-proclaimed "RV boondocking capital of the world." The town is known for catering to travelers, and is a destination of millions of RVers a year. The town also hosts a two-month-long gem show and swap meet in the months of January and February. This unique little town, founded in 1867 and located just off I-10, is a must see when traveling though Arizona.
Hi Jolly's Tomb, Quartzsite, Arizona, Roadside America. Accessed June 30th 2020. https://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/11284.
Hi Jolly Monument - Quartzsite, Arizona, Atlas Obscura. Accessed June 30th 2020. https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/hi-jolly-monument.
Hi Jolly Monument, City of Quartzsite. Accessed June 30th 2020. http://www.ci.quartzsite.az.us/index.php/2013-01-08-06-33-10/hi-jolly-cemetary-2.