Internment Camps

Location of Camps


Location, Population, Date Opened

  • Granada-Colorado 7,318 people, opened August 27, 1942
  • Heart Mountain- Wyoming, 10,767 people, opened August 12th 1942
  • Jerome -Arkansas, 8,497 people, opened October 6, 1942
  • Manzanar- California, 10,056 people, opened June 1, 1942
  • Minidoka- Idaho, 9,397 people, opened August 10, 1942
  • Poston -Arizona, 17,824 people, opened May 5th, 1942
  • Rohwer- Arkansas, 8,475 opened September 18th, 1942
  • Topaz -Utah, 8,130 people opened September 11th, 1942
  • Gila River -Arizona, 13,348people, opened July 20, 1942
  • Tule Lake- California, 18,789 people, opened May 27th, 1942


The War Relocation Authority (WRA) oversaw the construction of ten incarceration camps in sparsely populated and isolated areas, mostly on unused desert or swampland under federal control. Between June and October 1942, incarcerees were transferred by train from the "assembly centers" to the larger camps. The camps housed approximately 120,000 people, and were designed to be self-contained communities, complete with hospitals, post offices, schools, warehouses, offices, factories, and residential areas. The sites were surrounded by barbed wire and guard towers. While conditions varied from camp to camp, the plan was consistently based on a grid system of blocks. Each block had ten to fourteen tar paper-covered barracks, a mess hall, a latrine, a laundry, and a recreation hall. Supplied furnishings were a single droplight, army cots, and a coal, gas, or wood heater. Over time the incarcerees built furniture and planted gardens. The WRA attempted to establish normalcy by setting up newspapers, a degree of self-government, sports leagues, and social events. But confinement, monotony, and harsh conditions exacerbated tensions between pro- and anti-camp administration residents and between the disempowered Issei and their U.S.-born Nisei children. At several centers, conflicts erupted into violence and at the Manzanar incarceration camp the unrest resulted in fatal shootings. The WRA gradually granted work and school leave to those they considered loyal. The last camp closed in March 1946.





Distinctive Facts:

In July 1943, Tule Lake was designated as a segregation center for those the War Relocation Authority (WRA) considered "disloyal" as a result of their answers on the mandatory so-called "loyalty questionnaire." In September 1943, "loyal" incarcerees from Tule Lake began departing to other camps and "disloyal" incarcerees from other incarceration camps started arriving at Tule Lake. The number of guards increased from a few hundred to 930; an eight-foot high double fence was erected. The camp's capacity was 15,000 but the peak population reached 18,789 as 6,249 original "loyal" incarcerees chose to stay rather than be uprooted again.


All of the camps were built based upon the army model and resembled military housing of that period. The only difference was that the entire site was surrounded by barbed-wire fences with watchtowers staffed by armed guards. The evacuees live in barrack style housing. Each barrack measured 20 by 100 to 120 feet, divided into four to six rooms, each from 20 by 16 to 20 by 25 feet. Each room housed one family, no matter how large the family. In a few cases, two families might share a room. The barracks were arranged in what was called a block consisting of twelve to fourteen barracks, a communal mess hall, bath and shower facility, toilets, laundry and recreation hall. The barracks were constructed of planks nailed to studs, covered with tar paper, with no interior wall. Since they were newly constructed, many had cracks in the floors and walls, which let dust settle into the living area. The Caucasian military and administrative personnel had their own housing, which was generally larger and better equipped than the internee living quarters. Inside the barracks were two canvas cots, sometimes a cotton mattress, minimal bedding sheets, pillow, and blanket, a potbellied stove for coal heating, and a naked ceiling light bulb. There was little privacy to each family.

Population Description: Held people from California: Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Clara Counties (Merced and Santa Anita Assembly Centers), northern California coast, west Sacramento Valley, and the northern San Joaquin Valley.


Heart Mountain
Population Description: Held people from Los Angeles, Santa Clara, and San Francisco, California; Yakima, Washington; and Oregon.


Population Description: Held people from Los Angeles, Fresno, and Sacramento, California; also held people from Honolulu, Hawaii.


Population Description: Over 90 percent of the people held here were from the Los Angeles, California, area; others were from Stockton, California, and Bainbridge Island, Washington.


Population Description: Held people from Washington, Oregon, and Alaska; in 1943 many of the incarcerees from Bainbridge Island, Washington, were transferred at their own request to Minidoka from Manzanar.


Population Description: Held people from Arizona, Oregon, and Washington. Salinas, Santa Anita, and Pinedale Assembly Centers in California as well as Mayer Assembly Center, Arizona, sent their populations here.


Population Description: Held people from Los Angeles and San Joaquin, California; incarcerees endured a three-day train ride to Arkansas.


Population Description: Most of those held in Topaz were from the San Francisco Bay area: Alameda, San Francisco, and San Mateo Counties in California.

Gila River

Population Description: Held people from Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Amador Counties; 3,000 were sent from southern San Joaquin Valley; also held 155 Japanese immigrants from Hawaii. Canal Camp housed people from the Turlock Assembly Center and San Joaquin Valley, while Butte Camp housed people from the Tulare and Santa Anita Assembly Centers.
Despite the fact that the Gila River Indian tribe objected to the imposition of an incarceration camp on their land, the Bureau of Indian Affairs granted a five-year lease for 16,500 acres to the War Relocation Authority (WRA). Today, the tribe limits access to the land, which the tribe considers sacred.

Tule Lake
Population Description: First to arrive were 500 volunteer residents from the Portland and Puyallup Assembly Centers. Others arrived from the Marysville, Pinedale, Pomona, Sacramento, and Salinas Assembly Centers in California. Some were sent directly from the southern San Joaquin Valley. After it became a segregation center, the camp held people from California, Hawaii, Washington, and Oregon.

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