The Red Ghost of Quartzsite – Quartzsite, Arizona - Atlas Obscura

Quartzsite, Arizona

The Red Ghost of Quartzsite

A scrap-metal sculpture recalls an infamous 19th-century camel.  

Quartzsite, Arizona, is a small town with a thing for camels. The town’s welcome sign is adorned with camels; its graveyard is the final resting place for Hadji Ali, a camel herder for the U.S. military; and just off of the 10 freeway sits Georgette, a scrap metal camel with ties to a fascinating bit of folklore: Arizona’s Red Ghost.

In the 1880s, stories spread throughout Arizona of a giant red horse with a devil on its back. The Red Ghost trampled a woman to death, tore through a second campground, and supposedly flipped over two freight wagons at a third. At the scene of each event were signs of the creature: enormous hoof marks larger than any horse, and strands of red hair.

Stories of the Red Ghost rampaging all over the territory lasted for a decade, until a farmer found it: a red camel grazing with the skeletal remains of a man strapped to its back. The camel was likely a straggler, released from Hadji Ali’s team after the government abandoned the U.S. Camel Corps. The Red Ghost mystery was mostly solved, though no one knows who roped the corpse to the camel’s back, or why. 

Quartzsite, which became known for its camel crossings, bears two reminders of that infamous ruby camel. One is a marker on top of Hadji Ali’s grave. Just around the corner and down the road from “Hi Jolly’s” grave, guarding a local gem store, stands the other. Her name is Georgette, a life-sized camel sculpture created from assorted car and motorcycle parts, and painted a deep red.

Know Before You Go

The sculpture can be seen outside Gem World on Main Street, about a third of a mile from Hi Jolly's Tomb.

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