Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Quartzsite AZ.

I stopped for a couple of hours in the town of Quartzsite Arizona. During the height of the summer months only the hardiest of desert denizens are there. The population is around 3600 or less during the brutal months of the Arizona summer. My stop had two main objectives. One was to see if it was possible to get a good promo video shot for the short story The Ghost of Hi Jolly in the book Rambling. The other was to pick up a few more specimens of Apache Tears. Since the cemetery is closer to the truck stop I decided to tackle that one first.

Walking down the short road to the cemetery I looked at the empty lots on both sides and remembered how different they would be in the winter months when the population of this sleepy little town explodes to somewhere around 1.5 million people. They come from all over for the Mineral and Gem Show. A side effect is that the town also becomes one super large Flea Market. Most of them though had no idea that tucked away back in the grave yard was a National Historic site, The Tomb of Hi Jolly. This Greek/Syrian camel driver came to the U.S. with a load of camels in the 1850's. It was an experiment to see how effective the animals would be in the desert Southwest. When the Civil War broke out it was abandoned, but Hi Jolly stayed on acting a packer, scout, and a number of other useful occupations in the area around Quartzsite. While I use him in my story it bothers me that more people don’t know about him and a lot of other colorful characters from the western expansion. Here is a still photo of the tomb. It really isn’t hard to find, if you know where to look.

I want to thank the great folks at Hardies Beads and Jewelry for keeping me supplied in Apache Tears and information about the town and Hi Jolly’s Tomb.

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