On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was bombed. A little less than one year later on August 12, 1942, Japanese Americans were forced illegally to relocated from their homes on the West Coast to the Heart Mountain Relocation Center by the Federal Government. Tarpaper barracks and wire enclosures became home to perfectly innocent people, suddenly and unexpectedly.
Today, a few haunting structures remain along with an old chimney. Heart Mountain was an incarceration campus…a concentration camp.
People lived in single rooms with communal latrines. Walls were barren except for a layer of tarpaper to protect them from the bitter cold and sweltering heat of the the Wyoming climate.
Anti-Asian groups had formed quite some time prior along the West Coast. It is a story that parallels in some respects, the behavior of the Nazi’s in Germany around the same time. Executive Order 9066, signed by President Roosevelt gave the army permission to uproot Japanese American citizens from their home as a “wartime necessity”. Decisions about whether or not these American citizens should be taken from their work and home was made on the basis of their ancestry. No comparable action was taken against people of German or Italian ancestry. Between the months of March and May in 1942, 45,000 Japanese Americans were relocated to Heart Mountain in Wyoming. At least 75,000 American citizens of Japanese ancestry were relocated to Heart Mountain Relocation Center. These people were forced to give up their property, their careers, and the community they lived in. They were only permitted to take what they could carry with them.
The last internees left Heart Mountain on November 10 in 1945. The buildings and equipment at Heart Mountain were auctioned off.
This is an interesting location among the haunts listed for Wyoming as it is an important place marking historically significant events wrought by racial prejudice and unexamined fears.
Powell, Wyoming was initially home to the Crow, Blackfeet, and Shoshone Indians before the arrival of the white man in the early 1800’s. Camp Colter was set up near the present site of Powell in the early 1900’s to explore the possibility of using irrigation to grow crops in the arid lands in the area. Early settlers transformed the land from an arid sagebrush flat into fields of crops in those early years of development.
Powell is named after Major John Wesley Powell who was an explorer and conservationist as well as the head of the Reclamation/Geodetic Service which made it possible to irrigate the lands and make them able to farmed.
The town was incorporated into Big Horn County in 1910. In 1911, it became park of nearby Park County. It is home to about 5,300 residents.
Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation. Retrieved December 3, 2009 from http://www.heartmountain.us/history.htm
No Author (n.d.). City of Powell. Retrieved December 3, 2009 from http://www.cityofpowell.com/assets/pages/community/aboutpowell.aspx
Shadowlord (1998). Shadowlands Haunted Places Index. Retrieved August 11, 2008 from http://theshadowlands.net/places/wyoming.htm
Road 19 & U.S. Hwy. 14 Powell WY Wyoming United States