Heart Mountain Relocation Center, Wyoming
Heart Mountain Relocation Center, we need to rewind 77 years, to when the events of Pearl Harbor shook the United States. In Europe, Hitler was blitzing Britain’s cities and France was already under Nazi rule. After years of hesitance, the time had come for America to join the fight. The day following Pearl Harbor, America declared war on Japan. They joined a conflict that would eventually claim more than 30 million lives. The country had become increasingly paranoid in the weeks following Pearl Harbor. As a result, the American Government decided to step in with Executive Order 9066, in a so-called attempt to thwart Japanese spies. Following its signing, ten isolated camps would pop up across the United States, holding some 120,000 Japanese Americans in substandard, confined housing. The “Heart Mountain Relocation Center” was one of those hidden-away camps. Heart Mountain Relocation Center today The former “internment camp” features a museum providing interpretive insight on the Japanese incarceration during World War II. Located at the northern edge of Wyoming, it’s right next to Yellowstone National Park, and less than two hour’s drive from Billings International Airport.To unravel the backstory of the
Vicky Causey Lockhart says
I was told my old house was from the barracks of heart mountain. My dad homesteaded a place outside of Shoshoni Wy. This was in 1948. I was born in 1952. Could you tell me anything about this. It’s very interesting. I’m in Texas. The house is still there. Been remodeled a few times. My dad passed in 1961 so he can’t tell me anything.
Danella Myers says
We reached out to the folks at Heart Mountain Interpretive Center to see if they could provide any insight, and here’s what we found out!
Yes, many of the post-WWII homesteaders had houses that started as barrack buildings from Heart Mountain! After the camp closed and the land was distributed to homesteaders, the buildings of the camp were still available, so the Bureau of Reclamation offered them to the homesteaders for purchase. The barracks were very cheap – as little as one dollar for half a barrack – but moving them to the homesteader’s land was left to the individual homesteaders. They used them for barns, sheds, and houses. Once you know what you’re looking for, you can still see many of the old barracks all over the region!
If you want more detail, the second edition of the book Moving Walls has several chapters dedicated to what happened to the barracks buildings after the camp closed. We’re also working on putting together an exhibit about the barracks that will be online soon.