“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Ralston in Park County, Wyoming — The American West (Mountains)

Barracks Living Area:

Camp Life at Heart Mountain

Barracks Living Area: Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 14, 2015
1. Barracks Living Area: Marker
Captions: (top right) Block 12 1-B Mr. Jahida's vegetable garden.; (middle right) Block layout, Block 23 shown here had the only USO building among the relocation camps. Unlike most other relocation centers, Heart Mountain barracks has a recessed entry which helped limit drafts when people entered or left the building.; (bottom right) Meal time at Heart Mountain.
Inscription. You are now overlooking the entire living area of the Heart Mountain Relocation Center. More than 10,000 men, women and children lived in the area bounded on your left by at the red brick home in there distance, the hill ahead of you, the hospital on your right and the area where you are now standing. It was the third largest community in Wyoming. A diagram of a typical block and the layout of a barracks are shown. There were 30 blocks.
Relocation center housing was similar to that seen in temporary military camps of the time. Construction began in June 1942 with more than 2,500 workers, many of whom were from nearby communities. The government hired every man who could swing a hammer and the jobs were a huge boost to the regional economy. Thirteen million board feet of #3 grade green pine and spruce lumber arrived by railroad. A single barrack could be constructed in fifty-eight minutes. Quality of construction was of little concern. The barracks housing, mess halls, latrines, administrative and hospital buildings were erected in sixty-two days at a 1942 cost of $5.5 million dollars.
The green lumber shrank when it dried, leaving gaps between the boards of up to one-half inch. The outer walls were covered with black tar paper and lath. This type of construction created many hardships for the internees during the cold
Barracks Living Area: Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 14, 2015
2. Barracks Living Area: Marker
Wyoming winters.
Each barracks building was 120 feet long by 20 feet wide. The building was divided into six rooms, two 20 by 24 feet, two 20 by 16 feet and two 20 by 20 feet. The larger rooms were for families of six or more individuals. These barracks apartments supplied only basic protection against the elements. There was no individual or family privacy. Each room was furnished with a single coal burning pot-bellied stove and a single light fixture hanging from the open ceiling. Coal was dumped in a central location in each block and internees hauled what they needed each day. In addition, each internee was issued an army style cot with mattress and two wool blankets. Partitions for privacy usually consisted of blankets draped across a rope that spanned the room. The internees made furniture from scrap lumber. In late December 1942 and early January 1943, Celotex, a type of insulation wallboard finally arrived for the internees to install ceilings and walls.
Each block was made up of 24 barracks, two buildings with showers, lavatories, and laundry tubs, two mess halls and two recreation halls. Each block held about 550 persons.
Internees had to leave their apartments to use the latrine and shower facilities and to go to the mess halls for meals. The communal nature of the latrines and shower facilities destroyed any semblance of personal privacy. The communal
Diagram of Heart Mountain Relocation Center image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 14, 2015
3. Diagram of Heart Mountain Relocation Center
nature of the mess halls also caused a breakdown in family structure, as children were not required to eat at the same time or at the same table as their parents.
All staple foodstuffs were requisitioned from Army Quartermaster stations and wartime food rationing was observed. Certain foods were more popular than others and the cry, "No more rutabagas," was often heard.
Within the living area of the relocation center were barracks set aside for Buddhist and Christian worship, schools, and later a community enterprise store, radio shop, dry cleaners, two movie theaters and a library. Eventually a United Staters Organization (USO) lounge was opened to entertain Nisei servicemen visiting their families.
What might appear to have been a "normal community" never was normal because of the surrounding barbed wire, guard towers and lack of personal freedom and privacy for the internees.
Erected by Heart Mountain, Wyoming Foundation.
Location. 44° 40.21′ N, 108° 56.962′ W. Marker is near Ralston, Wyoming, in Park County. Marker can be reached from Road 19 near Lane 15, on the left. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1474 Road 19, Ralston WY 82440, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this
Heart Mountain Relocation Center image. Click for full size.
By Unknown
4. Heart Mountain Relocation Center
marker. Relocation Center Support Facilities (here, next to this marker); Heart Mountain Relocation Center Honor Roll and Flag Pole (a few steps from this marker); Heart Mountain High School: (within shouting distance of this marker); Daniel K. Inouye (within shouting distance of this marker); Administrative Area: (within shouting distance of this marker); Heart Mountain, Wyoming - Fall 1943 (within shouting distance of this marker); Norman Y. Mineta (within shouting distance of this marker); Heart Mountain World War II Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Ralston.
More about this marker. Heart Mountain Relocation Camp is located off of the Powell Highway (U.S. Highway 14A) about 6 miles south of Ralston. This marker is located on the Setsuko Saito Higuchi Memorial Walking Tour near Heart Mountain Relocation Center Memorial Park.
Additional keywords. Japanese American interment
Categories. Asian AmericansWar, World II
Barracks apartment image. Click for full size.
By Unknown
5. Barracks apartment
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on December 3, 2015, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 858 times since then and 21 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on December 3, 2015, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.
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