Excerpt from the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center website, click here to read more.
In honor of Historic Preservation Month, the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center is offering free admission on Saturday, May 4th, from 10am till 5pm.
Sitting at the foot of Heart Mountain in northern Wyoming, a few haunting remnants of the "camp" still stand-–a hospital boiler house with its towering red chimney, two hospital buildings, an administrative building, the concrete vault from the high school, a root cellar, and a large excavation that once served as a swimming hole. These and other reminders underscore the importance of preserving sites that are key to understanding U.S. history even when that history isn't flattering or idyllic.
Tne construction of the "Heart Mountain Relocation Center" began in the summer of 1942. Two thousand workers helped build the camp over approximately sixty days, and Wyoming's low unemployment rate was turned around within a matter of weeks.
The first trainload of "internees" arrived on August 12, 1942. The long train ride from the West Coast had taken its toll. Incarcerees came from California and Washington—6,448 from Los Angeles County; 2,572 from Santa Clara County; 678 from San Francisco; and 843 from Yakima/Washington Counties. For the Issei, who had immigrated to the U.S. to build new lives in their adopted country, removal to these inland locations meant the loss of homes, jobs, and businesses. Younger Nisei (American-born second generation) and Sansei (third generation) suddenly were forced to leave school and friends behind, with no idea as to when they might return.
Over the course of the three years it existed as a War Relocation Authority (WRA) facility, from August 1942 to November 1945, some 14,000 incarcerees passed through the confinement camp. Many were destined to stay within its barbed wire confines the entire time. At its peak, the population was 10,767.