A True Desert Turtle Story

Any of you old Desert Rats want to bet a gallon of good whiskey that the following turtle story ain’t true?

Old Bill Goeglein a retired assayer, now living in Wickenburg, Aiz., is noted for his veracity all over this desert.

In May, 1921, he went to Los Angeles and drove back a new Ford car. About five miles west of Amboy, Calif., he noticed the whole country ahead seemed to be moving and it was. A great migration of turtles was crossing the road ahead. The deep ruts in the road were filled with turtles and hundreds and thousands of them were crossing over them, moving in a northerly direction.

To the south as far as he could see and to the north as far as he could see was a moving mass of turtles spaced a few feet apart. As there seemed no end in sight, he decided to drive through them. He put her into low and ground through turtle meat, blood and guts for a full quarter mile before getting clear of the great migration.

When he arrived at the little filling station at Amboy, he stopped to clean the wheels and fenders of turtle meat. While there a small truck came in with the same experience.

After Old Bill told me this story, I made it a point to ask every old Desert Rat I met if he ever saw anything like this. In time I found an old cow puncher who saw the same thing in southwestern New Mexico. Thousands of turtles were crossing the Southern Pacific tracks and were piled up trying to get over the rails. A number of Indian Squaws were there filling funny sacks with turtles. One old Squaw said that the turtles from all over the desert went to a certain place to lay their eggs. After which they all migrated so as to leave the feed for the young turtles. Sounds reasonable.—John C. Herr, Wickenburg, Ariz.