In 1855, Congress authorized $30,000.00 for camels as frontier military beasts of burden because of their adaptability to desert heat, drought, and food.
Lt. Edward F. Beale surveyed the wagon route from Fort Defiance, New Mexico, to the Colorado River near the tip of present-day Nevada, testing the fitness of these camels. They crossed the Colorado River into what is today Nevada, north to Fort Mohave, October 18, 1857.
The experiment was not practical, but several of Beale’s camels hauled commercial freight from Sacramento to the Nevada territory. Others carried salt, ore, and supplies through central Nevada.
Careless treatment, domestic stock incompatibility and new transportation methods ended use of camels. Some were reportedly seen years later wandering in southwest deserts, making them a fixture of western folklore.