Camels and Route 66

c66 covercropped

One can find a connection between Route 66 and camels. In 1868 a lieutenant in the U. S. Army by the name of Paul Beall led a unit of camel riding soldiers from New Mexico to the Arizona-California border. In addition to proving that camels could be used successfully to move men and goods over far distances, he also conducted a survey  of that portion of a road that later would become Route 66. It would be years later that the camel would appear once again and this time as a logo for a trucking company with the motto of “ Humpin’ to Please”.

Route 66 starts in Chicago, goes South to St. Louis then turns westward through Missouri and Oklahoma continuing Southwest to Los Angeles. One could hardly make the trip on the portion of the road across Illinois, Missouri and Oklahoma without seeing a Campbell “66” truck and it’s running camel logo. For many years, an employee by the name of Bill Boyd, hand painted the camel logo  more than 12,000 times. Careful observation of Bill’s work would reveal that he seemed to give each camel a different personality in its face and one day he added a puff of white in front of the camel’s nose, stepped back and called him “ Snortin’ Norton”.  Many a traveler upon seeing the familiar logo would either break out with a smile or a sarcastic smirk.

A fifth grade girl attending an elementary school in Birmingham,  Alabama once wrote a letter to the Springfield General Office pointing out that the camel on the trucks was incorrect. She knew that a camel does not run with its legs stretched out. A camel runs with its front legs together and its back legs at the same time. She was correct but Bill Boyd, being the true Ozark artist he was, knew how to make a camel logo work.