Hi Jolly Grave.

Hi Jolly's Tomb

Field review by the editors.

Quartzsite, Arizona

In 1856, Secretary of War Jefferson Davis (later President of the Confederacy) had a novel idea: transporting freight and people across the desert Southwest on camels. He eventually imported over 70 of the beasts. Along with the first batch came a Syrian caretaker, Hadji Ali. His American masters called him Hi Jolly.

A plaque on Hi Jolly's tomb says of the camel experiment: "A fair trial might have resulted in complete success." But the Civil War intervened, Jefferson Davis changed jobs, and without his support the project was abandoned. The camels were set free to fend for themselves in the desert near Quartzsite.

HI Jolly tomb inscription.

Hi Jolly remained, living into his seventies. The locals were so fond of him that, after he died, they spent several weeks building Hi Jolly a special pyramid tomb, made of multicolored petrified wood and quartz. It was dedicated on Jan. 4, 1903. Thirty-three years later the Arizona Highway Department came along and cemented a bronze plaque to the tomb, telling Hi Jolly's story, and topped the pyramid with a metal camel silhouette.

In those long-ago days the Quartzsite cemetery was remote, just bare ground and a few scrubby sagebrush at the edge of an obscure desert outpost. Now you have to drive through the very busy Quartzsite flea market to get to Hi Jolly. Still, his tomb is the biggest thing back in its tiny patch of desert solitude.

The camels, by the way, outlived Jefferson Davis, Hi Jolly, and even the cementing of the plaque. Their last reported sighting was in 1942.

More on Hi Jolly and the camel corps: Neil Morrison, director of the 11th Armored Calvary Museum at Fort Irwin, California, said that Hi Jolly had two wives simultaneously, and that there was a second middle-eastern camel trainer as well, "Greek George" (There were originally ten, but the other eight quit when the Army refused to pay them up-front). Greek George eventually settled in southern California. One day he innocently helped a Mexican bandit who had been injured in a fight, was later tried and found guilty of aiding a criminal (even though he spoke no English or Spanish), and was hanged -- so no monument for George.

Also see: Hi Jolly Exhibit and Human Leg Bone

Hi Jolly's Tomb

Address:
W. Main St., Quartzsite, AZ
Directions:
I-10 exit 17. North side, about a half-mile east on Business 10/W. Main St. Turn north at the Hi Jolly Tomb sign and drive through the flea market to get to the town cemetery and the monument.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

More Quirky Attractions in Arizona

Stories, reports and tips on tourist attractions and odd sights in Arizona.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use RoadsideAmerica.com's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

October 22, 2014

My Sights

Map and Plan Your Own Roadside Adventure

Try My Sights

Roadside America app
Roadside Presidents app

Arizona Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

San Francisco Dungeon, San Francisco, California (Oct 20-26, 2014)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sightings. Arrives without warning. Leaves no burn marks. A free newsletter from RoadsideAmerica.com. Subscribe now!
RoadsideAmerica.com Hotel & Motel Finder

Special online rates for hotels & motels.

Nearby Hotels and Motels, Quartzsite, Arizona

Nightly rates found:

Book Online Now