View Full Version : red ghost

04-08-1999, 07:34 AM
Occasionally I come across references to a story that *supposedly* happend in Arizona in the 1800's.
The army (or some orginization) imported camels as work animals, but they (the camels) didn't work out and were let loose in the desert.
According to the legend (or the version I heard), some drunk guys strapped a dead guy on one of the camels as a goof. The animal got loose and terrified the locals for years, both from a distance (a spooky sight) and up close (stampeding people).
Books I've read about Arizona sometimes mention the story, but they don't verify it.
So I leave it to you guys... is this a true story or a tall tale?

04-08-1999, 11:49 AM
There was a vaquero in the late 1800s whose body had been tied to a horse and subsequently "rode the range" for a while. (I believe he was an outlaw who had crossed his gang, and they killed him and added insult to injury by refusing to bury him.) He freaked a more than a few people out, mainly because he'd been shot at several times by frightened ranchers and such with no visible effect. Finally a posse was formed to track the "ghost" down; they shot the horse and discovered the secret of the "ghost." Dunno about the camels; never heard that in connection with this legend.

I got the above from a Reader's Digest compendium of weird and unusual facts, so take it for what it's worth.

04-08-1999, 07:40 PM
I imagine he meant no visible affect on the person riding the horse, e.g. moaning, clutching of the chest or falling off the horse writhing in pain. Now, when they shot the horse, there was a real visible affect there.

The Dave-Guy
"since my daughter's only half-Jewish, can she go in up to her knees?" J.H. Marx

04-09-1999, 12:06 AM
They shot at him with no visible effect? Wouldn't the horse run off?

04-09-1999, 10:34 AM
Thanks for covering my six, Dave.

04-09-1999, 10:37 AM
I read about the camel story in a "big book of urban legends" type thing I had when I was a kid. Some of the stories in there have subsequently been disproven, so I don't know how accurate it was, but the original poster got the gist of it right according to the version I read. I don't remember the name of the book; it was geared towards 12-year olds.

04-09-1999, 11:44 AM
What?! You mean you and I, relying on memory and research books geared toward juveniles, have come to different conclusions regarding a posted question? This is not good. Under the traditional rules of engagement on the board, aren't we now required to battle to the death? Or at least impugn each other's belief system and/or heritage?

04-09-1999, 02:37 PM
Actually, I'd imagine that it was precisely because of the "visible effect" on the horse that a scenario like this could occur (if it did). If the horse didn't take off like a shot, the shooters likely would have got close enough to discover the corpse's state right away.

And in deference to Sauron's well-taken point about the traditional means of discourse on discussion boards, let me add that all your belief systems and heritages suck and you're all thoroughly lousy, embittered and ignorant individuals who are vastly inferior to myself. (<--- IRONY alert, please do not take seriously)

04-09-1999, 03:13 PM
Sauron wrote:
What?! You mean you and I, relying on memory and research books geared toward juveniles, have come to different conclusions regarding a posted question? This is not good. Under the traditional rules of engagement on the board, aren't we now required to battle to the death? Or at least impugn each other's belief system and/or heritage?


I did mention that my source had been proven wrong on a few other things, so I wasn't making any definitive claims regarding its accuracy. However, if it's a mud-slinging fight you want, Sauron, I'm up for it...

Your userid indicates that you are a dark evil wizard, while mine indicates that I'm the Goddess of Discord. I think Goddess rank beats Wizard rank, but I'm not sure about that. Anyway, the Goddess of Discord seeks only to stir up controversy, which can ultimately lead to enlightenment. Sauron, on the other hand, is just plain EEEEVIL Which fits with some other information quite nicely...

Your user profile says you're in advertising. Thus, you deal in half-truths, exaggerations, and sometimes blatant lies. Everyone knows you can't trust advertisers.
I, on the other hand, am a technical writer. Despite snarky comments from idiot users, technical writers strive to present the truth in a clear, readable form. At the very least, technical writers can be said to be less willfully misleading than advertisers. Thus, given the information we (as members of this MB) have available to us, I must be more trustworthy than you. (Who needs belief systems or heritage? If you work in advertising, nobody needs to look any further than that to impugn you!)

Your evil advertising ways will fail, Sauron! Truth will prevail!

04-09-1999, 04:35 PM
You WOUND me, madam.

How can you take potshots at the wonderful world of advertising? We're the industry that has given you such noteworthy events as the Canadian Club "Find the Case" campaign, the "Don't Squeeze the Charmin" campaign, the "I Can't Believe I Ate the Whole Thing" campaign ... hmmm. I may be shooting myself in the foot here.

Oh, well, when in doubt, attack. Yes, I deal in lies and half-truths intentionally. I am occasionally "willfully misleading." But geez, does that mean you technical writers are actually TRYING to be clear and concise when you write that crap? Aren't you the folks who have given us the EZ guides to programming your VCR?

I used to have such high regard for you, Eris. But a technical writer ... man. That one's gonna take some digesting. (I still think you've got a cute font, though.)

04-09-1999, 04:55 PM
Hey, I'm just cute generally :-)

Regarding the VCR thing - the reason those things are so hard to understand is because they were written by people in a different country (Japan, Hong Kong (China), Korea, take your pick) who were probably actually engineers, not writers. The instructions were then translated into English. Hence peculiar instructions such as "When plugged in VCR, water take cautions that not inserted."

I write software manuals. (If you REALLY care, go to docs.uwi.com (http://docs.uwi.com) and download, say, a document on digital signatures. I can't claim that it will be thrilling reading for those of you not interested in Internet forms development software. Nonetheless, it is clearly written and I'm pretty sure that it's not at all misleading.

Oh this is so off-topic, isn't it? Sorry.

Anyway, Sauron, technical writers may not be respected as much as we should be, but at least we're not despised and reviled for playing a large role in the decline of western civilization.

Oh, and just to get back on topic: found a web page for a book detailing the use of camels in the US: [url]http://thehistorynet.com/reviews/bk_camels.htm[\url].

Seems I was right all along. smirk.

04-09-1999, 05:01 PM
bloody stupid rotten tags that don't work god damn it grrr

thehistorynet.com/reviews/bk_camels.htm (http://thehistorynet.com/reviews/bk_camels.htm)

Sorry about that.

04-12-1999, 01:27 PM
Ok. Not fair, though, 'cause you still have your book. I'll have to e-mail my sister and ask her to look for mine at my mom's house, although I strongly suspect it was sacrificed to the garage-sale gods many years ago. I might actually have to do (GASP) real research - as opposed to typing in +Arizona +camel +legend into yahoo.com.

Just so I'm clear on this, you're saying that the Legend of the Red Ghost was caused by a dead guy strapped to a horse, and I'm saying that the same legend was caused by a dead guy strapped to a camel, right? What happens if strapping dead guys to mobile mammals was the prank of choice for drunken frontiersmen all over Arizona? The 19th century equivalent of, say, a jello-ed bathtub on April fools? (You can see it, can't you... Billy and Big Joe were sittin' around the campfire, mighty pissed off at Clem cause he'd stuck rattlesnakes in their bedrolls...they decided to teach ol' Clem a lesson, so they shot 'im dead, an' started to strap 'im to ol' Barney the horse, only ol' Barney, he got spooked 'n run off, so they wuz stuck with this funny-lookin varmint what had et their supply of dates...)

04-13-1999, 12:16 AM
Whoa up there a minute, Eris. The book you cite does mention camels in the West and such, but it doesn't say specifically that a dead guy was strapped on to the back of one of the rogues. Whereas MY partially remembered legend covered that aspect of things quite nicely.

Tell you what. We'll declare it a draw. EEEEvil dark wizard withdraws with as much dignity as he can muster, at least until he remembers to bring the damn book to work so he can more properly reference the legend he thinks he remembers.

04-13-1999, 01:57 PM
I think you're probably right on that. All it takes to mix up two or more legends is a couple of people telling stories under the influence of a bottle of hootch.

OK, we'll call it a resolution. Your explanation sounds logical and I keep forgetting to ask my sister to look for my book.

04-14-1999, 12:56 AM
You know, this Red Ghost legend works on so many different levels.

Found my book last night and read up on the story (although I forgot to bring the stupid thing to work so I could reference it as I type). The "facts" (I use the term loosely for two reasons: 1) The book in question, after all, is a Reader's Digest "Facts and Fallacies" compendium, not exactly the world's foremost authority on Red Ghosts, and 2) The story is VERY sketchy on details) are as follows:

The incident involving the dead guy strapped to a horse (a semi-wild mustang) occurred in southwest Texas, not Arizona. A horse thief stole some horses (naturally) from a guy who wasn't one to just forgive and forget. (They gave the names of both men involved, but I've forgotten them.) The guy got some buds together and they chased the horse thief across much of Texas, finally catching him and killing him. One of the men (named Bigfoot Somethingorother) supposedly suggested the novel method of paying last respects to the dead man. However, he added one grisly touch: He decapitated the corpse and tied the head to the pommel of the saddle. Then they sent the mustang off into history. Nowhere, though, did the term "Red Ghost" rear its ugly head.

Sounds like two separate legends have gotten mixed together, Eris -- the camels in Arizona and the dead thief riding the range in Texas. What say you?

04-14-1999, 01:27 AM
I have "Outdoors in Arizona - A Guide to Camping" (an Arizona Highways Book) right here in front of me. Featured throughout the book are a number of "Around the Campfire" stories. One of these is titled "The Legend of Red Ghost." It appears that this is actually based on fact but has some embellishments. Indeed, the rest of the "Around the Campfire" features are actually more or less Arizona history lessons. JKB is pretty much in concurrence with the article. It states that

"The US Army introduced camels to the Southwest back in the 1850s, using them as beasts of burden while surveying a road across northern Arizona." (must've been I-40 - Strainger)

This was interupted by the Civil War, and most of the camels were sold at auctions although a number of them were set free.

It talks about a few sightings of "The Red Ghost," starting in 1883. In almost all cases, the camel makes a mess of things and leaves "cloven-hoof prints - much too big to be a horse's" leading away from the destruction. In one instance, a woman was trampled to death. Many witnesses saw that it was merely a camel with a rotting corpse on its back. Some prospectors that saw it shot at it, but missed. The camel bolted.

The legend finally ends. The last sighting occurs in 1892 in eastern Arizona. A rancher woke up, saw the "Red Ghost" grazing in his garden and shot it with his Winchester, killing it instantly. Upon examination, he found that

"...the animal's back was heavily scarred from rawhide strips that had been used to tie down the body of a man. Some of the leather strands had cut into the camel's flesh. But how the human body came to be attached to the back of the camel remains a cruel mystery."

That's all I know.

"I wept because I had no shoes, then I met a man with no feet. So I took his shoes" - Dave Barry

04-14-1999, 10:42 AM
Zowee! I was right! Capitulation revoked, Sauron - nyah, nyah!

I will now return to being an adult.

04-14-1999, 10:52 AM
Wait a minute! Because we were both right, you're going to renege on this fragile peace accord we'd reached? For shame, Eris. Although I suppose I shouldn't expect anything less from someone who would put ketchup on eggs.

04-14-1999, 11:27 AM
You know, Sauron, if you're going to try to guilt someone into doing stuff, you shouldn't then insult them in the next sentence. I fail to see how putting ketchup on eggs connects in any way, shape or form with breaking peace accords. And in any case, my motive for peace was a lack of information. That lack has been removed, therefore my motive for peace has been removed. My natural tendency towards discord is re-establishing itself, and I'm left to wonder, with no small amount of suspicion, exactly WHY you would want to make peace...

But I think The Case of the Red Ghost has been successfully resolved, and if you'd like to continue our little slander-fest, then how about we head on over to the "French Toast" thread? Seems that there's a bit more fodder for background and personality-related mudslinging there.

What do you put on your eggs - peanut butter?

04-14-1999, 05:44 PM
At least one of you is kidding, right?

The only decent thing to put on eggs is chile.

04-14-1999, 05:54 PM
I was kidding about the peanut butter, although I wouldn't be surprised if Sauron did fancy that.

He wasn't kidding about the ketchup though. Yum, yum! But the ultimate egg topping is... Curry! Preferably tomato-based, vegetarian curry, although lamb is okay too.

This should really be over in the French Toast Toppings thread. There's a whole lot of "more disgusting than thou" going on over there.

04-15-1999, 10:28 AM
I'm just depressed that I found this thread too late to really jump in the middle of the cute but bloodthirsty battle between ya'll.

No, Im not from the south...I just like the word ya'll today.

What would be the modern urban legend form of the Red Ghost story? A pizza delivery truck with the body of a former employee strapped on top...and a skittish driver that won't make his deliveries for fear of getting arrested?

04-15-1999, 11:20 AM
And just WHAT is wrong with peanut butter on toast?

(Actually, I've never tried that, but I'm just being contrary. You should appreciate that, Eris.)

Ketchup on eggs is a plot from the devil.

Long live dead men on horses OR camels! (So to speak.)

04-15-1999, 11:54 AM
Peanut butter on toast is fine. It's when you add eggs that it becomes something worthy of a good hurl.

Actually, I really like peanut butter on toast.

And I appreciate contrariness in myself, but not in others. Oh, there's a word for that, isn't there... one that starts with a "b"...

04-16-1999, 12:45 AM
Vunicorn - You didn't have to tell me you aren't from the South. Number one, you did not capitalize "South" as any good Southerner knows is proper. Number two, the word is "y'all" - a contraction of "you" and "all". I'm headed over to the "pet peeves" thread, look for me under "fake Southern accents". Pass tha grits 'n' gravy, momma.

Beware the lollipop of mediocrity. Lick it once and you will suck forever.

04-17-1999, 11:40 PM
Everyone seems to take at face value the story from the state guide book. Marks from leather straps that held a corpse to the back of the camel.
Oh yeah, everyone has seen those before.

05-31-1999, 03:11 PM
The version that I heard was that after the camel cavelry experiment failed or lost funding, the camels were just turned loose. Sighting an unfamilar animal, uneducated 19th century pioneers thought the CAMELS were ghosts, and panicked. Not so strange, when you remember that there were few zoos or circuses in America at the time. And books usually did not have photos. Given a dark night, and a curious camel moving quietly into the firelight--yeah, some newly arrive immigrant mope [like my ancestors] might think it was a ghost. Your "sources" [insert superior sneer here] are fusing a myth [dead man on horse] with historically verifyable fact.Fie on the two of you.


06-01-1999, 08:47 AM
JKB--are you sure you're not getting the camels in the US story mixed up with the legend of El Cid, the Spanish hero? After El Cid died, his men strapped him to his horse and set him in front of the army. The Moors believed that he had come back from the dead, and were routed by the Spanish.

BTW, this story is probably not true, but just part of the legend of El Cid.

06-02-1999, 12:27 AM
Daniel, a dead guy found tied to a horse in the late 19th century is not "historically verifyable?" Of course not. Such a thing would never be documented. And even if it was, the Illuminati would never allow such a document to be viewed by the general public.

Anyway, here's a web site that presents the story in more detail. http://www.simmons.edu/~jacobs/legend.html Pretty true to the Arizona Highways story. The main difference being that AZ Hwys doesn't mention that the body eventually became detached (although it doesn't mention that the body did NOT become detached either).

I probably wasn't clear about it before, but I was trying to determine whether the story was being presented as fact or fiction. My main objective was to discuss the story, true or not. The thing that made me think that the legend is presented as fact is that the articles give dates and, in the case of the AZ Hwys article, IIRC, names. However, since I'm still not quite clear as to how the story is being presented, I'll contact the research department at Arizona Highways with two questions: 1) Is the Red Ghost story presented as fact or fiction? 2) If fact, what are your sources? Incidentally, at least one source is given on the last page of the aforementioned web site.

Also, daniel, if you had done any checking, you would see that my "source," Arizona Highways, is a reputable periodical providing readers with articles on Arizona history, nature, events, etc. i.e. it ain't the Weekly World News. And your source would be ...? Fie this.

"I wept because I had no shoes, then I met a man with no feet. So I took his shoes" - Dave Barry

06-06-1999, 08:51 PM
"Arizona Highways" is a publication dedicated to promoting tourism in Arizona--a dull and dusty place full of dull and dusty people. You think those mopes are going to research anything that makes the place sound all folksy and romantic? As for the sources for camel cavalry, check out any good history of the US Army Cavalry.


06-07-1999, 05:37 PM
daniel, you've obviously never been to Arizona, except for maybe Yuma or - our favorite source of jokes - Gila Bend. Either that, or you just prefer to sit around on your butt rather than going out and having a good time. In any case, I've contacted Arizona Highways asking the aforementioned questions. I'll post what I find out when I hear from them, including any references cited. Personally, I don't see what's so damn unbelievable about a dead guy being tied to a camel, especially given the other strange things that have happened and still happen in this state.

"I wept because I had no shoes, then I met a man with no feet. So I took his shoes" - Dave Barry

07-03-1999, 07:21 PM
people: I have re-read a book of old English folklore, and what do you think I found? A story about a highwayman [read-armed robber] that tied himself to the saddle after being wounded by the local law [to avoid falling off if he passed out] and died. Allegedly, he was seen for years afterwards, still tied to the horse> Co-incidence?


07-06-1999, 12:33 AM
Strain, I went to that site you posted on camels and am curious about a line from the "story". Quote-"Many Arabians roamed through Texas, California, and Arizona." Huh?

07-06-1999, 01:46 AM
Still haven't heard from AZ Highways. Guess I could go to the library to research the "true or false" aspect of the legend, but my curiosity isn't strong enough and I hardly find the likes of daniel to be worth going through any special effort for. To get to your question, popokis, "Arabian" evidentally refers to a type of camel. (Was that your question?)