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The Virginia City Camel Race


In 1959 Bob Richards, editor of the Nevada-based Territorial Enterprise, announced that a camel race would be held that year down the main street of Virginia City. He challenged other local papers to race their camels in the event.

Given that the Enterprise had a proud tradition of telling tall tales (it was once the employer of such inveterate hoaxers as Mark Twain and Dan de Quille), none of the other papers took the challenge as anything more than a wild yarn. And in truth, Bob Richards had not been serious when he issued the challenge.

But when word of the competition reached San Francisco, the San Francisco Chronicle decided to call the Enterprise's bluff. They accepted the challenge and showed up in Virginia City with camels. Soon other contestants began arriving. And so the first ever Virginia City camel race was held. The Chronicle went home with the prize, thanks to the superior camelmanship of director John Huston, who raced their camel for them.

The camel race is now an actual event in which teams from around the world compete every year.

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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.