Uncle Sam Conceives Red Ghost! Big Northeast Snow

Beware of the Red Ghost!

Beware of the Red Ghost!

On This Date in History:  We’ve lately been examining Congressional spending.  After all, that is the topic of conversation in the press these days.  A few days ago we had an example of the Department of Agriculture spending a bunch of money on a pluviculturist…a rain maker who had the idea of firing cannon to explode in the sky and the concussion was to make rain.

Aussies Utilize Camels in Afghanistan

Aussies Utilize Camels in Afghanistan

This time, we have an example that actually is perhaps a bit more valuable.  If the record is accurate, you will find that the idea of camel travel in the New World came up in 1700’s Virginia.  The topic continued into the 19th Century and the use of the beasts of burden of  the Middle East was given great consideration in 1836 for the exploration of the Southwest.  But, the wheels of government traditionally move slow and it wasn’t for another 19 years that the camel came to Uncle Sam.  On this date in 1855, Congress made a $30,000 appropriation to fund the US Army Camel Corps.  Who was the guy who pushed the hardest for the appropriation?  None other than Secretary of War Jefferson Davis who in just 5 years would become the President of the ill-fated Confederate States of America.  Davis may have been effective in getting money from Congress but he couldn’t get those wheels to move any faster.

Camel At Gov't Depot in California

Camel At Gov’t Depot in California

It took a year, but 32 camels arrived in Indianola, Texas after a three month journey from Egypt.  The smell was reported to be “horrendous” which is saying alot when one considers that 19th Century America was still mainly driven by animal power.  Nevertheless, the man in charge of the operation was so enamoured with the animals that he immediately asked for more.  Lt. Edward Beale  was charged with making the first expedition and took 25 of the camels to investigate a route from New Mexico to California and is credited with surveying the trail that would become part of the famous Route 66.  Beale loved the fact that the animals could each carry on their back as much as a wagon pulled by six mules and travel nearly twice as fast.  Based in part on the report of Beale, the War Department acquired 1000 more camels in 1858.

Miners Found A Good Use

Miners Found A Good Use

But…the country was getting closer to splitting apart by then and Congress, as well as Jefferson Davis, had turned its attention to the slavery issue and the potential for secession.  Also, the attributes put forth by Beale notwithstanding, soldiers found the animals rather difficult to handle.  Those factors and the Civil War led the army to end the program in 1863.  Most of the animals were auctioned and ended up in circuses or going to work for mining companies that took advantage of the payload and speed considerations of camels.  But, there were some that simply got away.  One was referred to as the Red Ghost.  It was a giant camel with red fur that was first spotted some two decades after the project ended.  In the Arizona Territory in 1883 the Red Ghost appeared outside a cabin and trampled a woman to death.  Now, why would a camel attack a frontier woman?

US Army Found Use In Turn of Century China

US Army Found Use In Turn of Century China

As it turns out, the Red Ghost didn’t like anyone and perhaps for good reason.   Seems that the creature had a human corpse tied to its back.  No one got close enough to determine if the guy was dead before he was lashed to the Red Ghost’s back or after but I’m sure that the camel didn’t care either way.  All he knew was that he had a stinking, decaying dead guy on his back.  The Red Ghost continued to roam about for another ten years before someone decided it was a good idea to shoot him.  Wild camels in the West were reported for many years to come with last sighting coming in 1941.  No word on if there was a dead guy on that one or not.

Midday NAM Still Shows Mid 20's Monday...winds 7-15 mph

Midday NAM Still Shows Mid 20’s Monday…winds 7-15 mph



NAM 36hr Snow Accum thru 12Z 03.03

GFS 36 Hr. Snow Accum thru 12Z 03.03
GFS 36 Hr. Snow Accum thru 12Z 03.03

Weather Bottom Line:

I’m probably not going to write too much because..well…I don’t think I feel like it.  The story is about the same.  I still am not sure how we get above freezing on Monday.  Sunday, we did but the wind made it feel much colder so who cares what the temperature really was because its how you feel that really counts, right?  Anyway, the low has done its work…didn’t bring much here, brought about 5 inches of snow in parts of western Tennessee and a few inches in Alabama and Georgia.  As it was there, it was in the base of the trof and started to get going better and still will move in some fashion up the east coast.  The storm will more or less be straddling the coast and so that will help it to develop some more.  So, it really gets going say…off the coast of Maryland.  The exact track in relation to how far off the coast it is will determine who gets how much.  It will probably be alot in several places, mainly the I-95 corridor from Washington DC to Boston.  If you look closely at the GFS and NAM depictions, then you see that the sliver of the foot snow is generally relegated to the extreme coastal regions.  I’m hearing news reports that are really going over the top.  Truth is, no one can tell you exactly how much any specific place will get…just its going to be a pretty fair amount.


As for our weather..a bit of a difference here.  I think we’re cold on Monday, still pretty chilly on Tuesday but may get to the low 40’s and then a warm up.  The ECMWF still wants to bring a cold front through on Friday night and much colder air for the weekend.  The Canadian and GFS both have a similar tale that features a ridge off the SE US coast.  That will hold off any frontal systems and keep us warm through the weekend.  My guess is that the warmer scenario will win out but we’ll see.


This entry was posted on Monday, March 2nd, 2009 at 5:21 am and is filed under Bob Symon, History, Louisville Forecast, Louisville Weather, Opinion, Politics, Science, This Date In History and Weather. Tagged: , , , , , , , , , . You can feed this entry. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses

  1. Just dropping by.Btw, you website have great content!

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  2. Thanx. Feel free to put in your two cents any time.

  3. Can you tell me anything about the photo of the camel at the CA army depot? e.g., which post, year?

  4. There are several sources for the photo which is said to be the only existing photo of a camel at Banning’s Warf. I think that was near New San Pedro but certainly was near Los Angeles. My best guess is that the photo is from around 1859 or 1860. I’ll email you some links. Thanx for the query. Pretty wild photo.

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