Manzanar War Relocation Center, California
Manzanar War Relocation Center is a National Historic site operated by the National Parks Service. It's 12 miles north of the city of Lone Pine and about 20 miles North of Owens Lake and Keeler. It's a very interesting side trip if you're visiting the Alabama Hills, Mt. Whitney or in the Lone Pine area. From 1942 to 1945, 10,000 Americans of Japanese decent were forcibly relocated to this now empty spot in the Owens Valley. They were removed from their homes and lives in California, Oregon and Washington after the attack on Peril Harbor. Manzanar was one of 10 "relocation" camps that housed a total of 110,000 west coast Japanese during that period.
Almost all of the structures at the Manzanar camp were originally intended to be temporary. In the years after the war, the combination of embarrassment about the treatment of the Japanese, and the humiliation of the people forced to live in the camps led to the neglect and demolition of the camps. In the late sixties survivors of the relocation program began to organize and efforts to preserve the camps began.
I've visited Manzanar twice (briefly) in the winter of 2012 and in 2013. I was the only person there the first time and one of two the second. There really isn't that much to see. A few of the temporary barracks have been recreated or restored but they pretty much look like double wide manufactured homes. Informational signs are scattered around pointing to spots where things used to be. There is no admission charge and when I was there there was no staff visible. The gravel roads are well maintained. The most impressive thing about visiting for me was the vastness of the site. The grid layout of the camp sprawls on and on. And it's all in the shadow of one of the more spectacular parts of the Sierra Nevada range. Of all of the war relocation centers built during WWII, Manzanar is supposed to be the best preserved.
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