Camp Verde, Texas is located 12 miles south of Kerrville, Texas on Highway 173. From Interstate 10, take Highway 16 south to the intersection of Highway 16 and Highway 173. Go south about twelve miles and there you will find the main building in Camp Verde. It is the Camp Verde General Store and Post Office.
The existing building is not the original building, but it does sit on the foundation of the original General Store. The floor is orginal as it has the original cellar door that goes to the basement. The store is granted a Historical Site by the Texas State Historical Survey Committee.
The original mercantile business opened in 1857 as Williams Community Store serving trade around the Camp Verde Army Post. Camp Verde was the site of the U. S. War Departments camel experiment from 1857 to 69. Today the Camp Verde General Store is a combination post office, gift shop and restaurant. The restaurant is opened only for lunch but is very popular and serves a large crowd on most days. They have a beautiful patio where you can eat outside on warm spring and summer days.
If you are traveling in the Texas Hill Country, do yourself a favor and stop by Camp Verde. You can enjoy a leasurily lunch or browse throug the gift shop.
Camp Verde History
In 1854, Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, later President of the Confederacy, petitioned Congress to appropriate $30,000 so the army could experiment with camels for arms transportation and military purposes. With the support of President Pierce, the bill was later approved by Congress on March 4, 1855. Major Henry Wayne and Lt. David Porter were put in command of securing the camels from the Middle East. The first shipment of nine swift dromedaries from Egypt, twenty burden camels, plus four others of mixed breed, arrived on the naval supply ship on April 29, 1856. Four native drivers, later given the American names of Greek George, Long Tom, Mico and Hi-Jolly (Hadji Ali) accompanied the camels.
On August 26-27, 1856, the camels arrived in Ft. Camp Verde. The second load of forty camels arrived in May 1857. The third shipment, used as a cover for slave importation into the U. S. was turned loose to range the coastal country. At the outbreak of the Civil War, fifty-three camels were at Fort Camp Verde. On February 28, 1861, Fort Camp Verde passed into the hands of the Confederacy. In 1865, the fort with one hundred camels was recaptured by the US Government. The camels passed every test as pack animals by traveling longer distances and carrying heavier loads than the mules and horses used in this area. The war department, after the Civil War, did not have the funds to continue the operation of this experiment as money was needed for the reconstruction. On November 30, 1869, the fort was deactivated. Although the fire of March 1910 destroyed the buildings of Fort Camp Verde, the current owners live on this historical setting and maintain the true picturesque history of the camel experiment of the 1850's.
Now you see why there are so many camel images around the general store.
This Old Campsite
This Old Campsite
Here are three early pictures of Camp Verde. Thanks to one of the descendants of the 13 original families of Camp Verde, Texas