Search for Surviving Structures of Heart Mountain Camp Begins in Park County
Written by Andrew-Rossi on October 22, 2020
Park County historians are searching throughout the Bighorn Basin for barracks that once housed Japanese Americans – you may own or work in one without even knowing it.
During World War II, over 14,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated in the Heart Mountain Relocation Center during its three-year existence. It was, at the time, the third-largest “town” in Wyoming.
To accommodate this massive number of American citizens, over 700 buildings were quickly constructed, including 468 residential houses that housed six families each. Once the camp closed in 1945, those buildings were sold to locals and new homesteaders in the Bighorn Basin.
Many of those barracks still exist today as barns, workshops, or even homes. But how do you know if you happen to have one?
The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation and the Park County Historic Preservation Commission are hosting an online workshop to teach intrigued volunteers how to identify and document buildings from the Heart Mountain Relocation Center that are still located in Park County.
It’s the first step in a long-term program to discover and catalog every surviving Heart Mountain structure in the Bighorn Basin.
“A lot of people assume the camp is completely gone,” says Heart Mountain executive director Dakota Russell. “What they don’t realize is that much of it is still here, hidden in plain sight. This project will make those connections to the past much more visible.”
Russell hopes this will increase the visibility of Heart Mountain and its lasting legacy on the area.
The workshop will be held online on Sunday, Nov. 1 at 3 p.m. Participation is free, but space is limited. If you’re interested in joining the effort, visit the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation website or Facebook page.
If you already know or suspect you own a Heart Mountain building, contact the foundation at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org so they can add it to their database.