The Camels of Fort Tejon

For a Few Years, There Were Camels as Well as Horses at Fort Tejon

One thing I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post about Fort Tejon was that the outpost took part in the ill-fated attempt to introduce dromedary camels to the U.S. Cavalry. It didn’t work out too well because the horses and other livestock couldn’t be controlled when they caught a whiff of the Sahara in their midst. The following commemorative plaque is from Fort Tejon State Historical Park:

An Experiment That Didn’t Pan Out

Finally, below is a cloth patch honoring the camels of Fort Tejon:

The Camels Were There for Only a Short While

Martine and I didn’t really see any trace of the camel presence at Fort Tejon, though I do not doubt that they occasionally appear in the military re-enactments that occasionally take place there.

 

Fort Tejon

Reconstructed Enlisted Men’s Barracks at Fort Tejon

Near the top of the Grapevine along Interstate 5 is an old fort constructed soon after California joined the Union. Beginning in 1854, the fort was occupied by the U.S. 1st Dragoons to protect Southern California from the North and vice versa. Martine and I had been there a couple times before, but we were starved for some sort of destination. Although the Fort Tejon State Historical Park was open, all the buildings and their exhibits were closed in the interest of social distancing. Semi-open as it was, it was still interesting to wander around the premises looking at the reconstructed buildings.

First we drove to the mountain community of Frazier Park on the route to Mount Piños, at 8,847 feet (2,697 meters) the tallest mountain in nearby Ventura County. There, we ate at a little Mexican restaurant before doubling back to the I-5.

Entrance to Fort Tejon

There were never any real battles fought at Tejon—other than sham affairs involving re-enactors—and, what is more, as soon as Fort Sumter was fired upon, the 1st Dragoons were all shipped east, to be replaced by three companies of the 2nd California Volunteer Cavalry. There was some secessionist feeling in Southern California, but there was the staunchly Union Drum Barracks in Wilmington to keep Los Angeles in line. By September 1864, the Fort was decommissioned.

It was blisteringly hot at the Fort, despite the fact that we were a 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) altitude. The temperature was around 90° Fahrenheit (32° Celsius), but dropped down considerably as we returned to the Coast with its “June Gloom” marine layer.

The Buildings at Fort Tejon Looked to Be Made with Adobe Bricks

Most of the reconstructed buildings at Fort Tejon looked very authentic, being made with adobe bricks.

It was nice once again to have places to go, even with all the coronavirus restrictions in place.