Texas Camel Corps

Doug Baum, the owner of the Texas Camel Corps, spoke to the seventh graders of Travis Middle School and Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic School about the history of the camels arriving in Calhoun County. (Jared Van Epps/Wave photo)

Seventh-grade students at Travis Middle School and Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic School had a local history lesson Wednesday, April 3, from the Texas Camel Corps (TCC).

The TCC honors the history of the first camels that arrived in Texas in the late 1850s.

Doug Baum, the owner of TCC, said there wasn’t a specific corps, brigade, or unit in the military that used camels. He added the camels were a warehouse item that anyone could use.

“Over the ten years that they were in Texas, you would have seen the second cavalry use the camels as supply pack animals, and you would have seen US topographical engineers using the camels for the same.” Baum Said.

Baum brought in two camels for his presentation so the students could learn and understand about the camels arriving in Calhoun County.

According to Baum, the camels were brought into the United States due to the western migration after the gold rush. He added as soon as people left the center of Texas, they realized it was “hot and dry”.

“The camel had been kicked around as the solution to that problem for about 20 years,” Baum said.

According to Baum, the then secretary of war, Jefferson Davis got behind the idea “that was brewing” to bring camels to the United States. He added that 75 camels were purchased and put to work immediately.

Baum and his TCC have been doing their historical presentations at schools since 1997, and he said he is lucky to do the presentations where historical events happened.

“I am so lucky to be able to bring this history right where it happened,” Baum said. “Which includes Calhoun County, San Antonio, all the way along the modern highways that move to the west across New Mexico, Arizona, California and virtually the entire span of the trails the camels were on.”

Baum said he loves sharing history with the children, and he added kids are so far removed from their local history.

“They might get more energized about the battle of the Alamo, or they may get energized with history that happened far away,” Baum said. “But that is why I hammer home this thought and idea for these kiddos that this history is theirs. It happened right here where they live.”

Jon Kassner, the vice-chairman of the Calhoun County Historical Commission, said he and the Historical Commission have been working with Baum and the TCC for many years to teach the students.

“We have had good contact with Doug for a number of years,” Kassner said. “We like to bring him here every year to do his presentation of his camels for the seventh graders, and every year the kids enjoy it.”