A little tidbit from the BackStory report on the history of the mail really caught my attention. One of the History Guys mentioned carrying mail by camel. During the mid 1800s, it seems someone had the brilliant idea that camels would be perfect for jobs in the American Southwest. These jobs included surveying, pack hauling, being cavalry for the Army, and delivering mail. This last item is what intrigued me most, which I'm sure comes as no surprise to anyone. I decided I needed to know more. A search for "camel" on the Arago site only returned that they were found unsuitable for mail delivery. The same search at the National Postal Museum as came up with only the most cursory mention of camels in the postal service.
I was supremely disappointed by this lack of information regarding Camel Mail. There is a pretty decent account of the animals in military service, including the saga of how the experiment was proposed to Congress and the shipment of the camels from Africa in an article from Popular Science Monthly from 1909. Ultimately, it seems that everyone decided the camels were just too much trouble despite their abilty to carry extremely large loads over vast distances with little food or water and their usefulness in terrain that couldn't be covered by horses. They also weren't any faster than mules for mail delivery according to an article from Weird California.
A girl can dream though, and in doing, I made some new artistamps. They are available as a free download for members. Log-in to download the PDF. You'll have to perforate them yourself, of course, but now, you are ready to ship at camel rates!