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Heart Mountain Relocation Center

 

 
 

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One of the ten sites chosen for a Japanese relocation camp during 1942 was unused federal property located between Cody and Powell in Northwest Wyoming. Named for the only notable topographical feature, a nearby 8,113 foot mountain, Heart Mountain Relocation Center contained over 4,600 acres in Park County. Most of the land originally used for the camp is now cultivated for agricultural purposes. The camp was divided by function into district regions such as the hospital complex, administration area, warehouses, and barracks. Of the hundreds of buildings constructed quickly in 1942, only five structures remain at the site. Most of the streets and remnants of camp life are gone. Occasionally locals refer to the former camp as ''a city made of acres and acres of celotex.'' The hastily constructed frame buildings with poured concrete pads and gable roofs lacked ornamentation as well as permanence.

From 1942 through 1945, 14,000 Japanese-Americans passed through the Heart Mountain Relocation Center. At its peak population of over 11,000, Heart Mountain was the state's third largest community. The Center was built to house some of the 110,000 persons evacuated from the West Coast following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December, 1941. A combination of war hysteria, racial prejudice, perceived military necessity, and a desire for political and economic gain led to this forced evacuation of Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were American citizens. The legality of the forced evacuation is still being debated today, and the scars of the evacuation tragedy remain for the former internees, the residents of Park County, and all Americans. The site of the Heart Mountain Relocation Center is a poignant reminder of a bleak episode in American history, and is of exceptional importance in the military, social, and political history of the nation.

 
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Date Added to Register:
Thursday, December 19, 1985
 
Location:
Between Cody and Powell
 
County:
Park County
 
Smithsonian Number: 
48PA229