Exploring the Heart Mountain World War II Confinement Site



Sketch of Heart Mountain incarceree with her back to the wind. Image courtesy of the American Heritage Center, from their Estelle Ishigo Photographs digital collection.

The Heart Mountain Relocation Center, located between Powell and Cody in Wyoming, was constructed in the summer of 1942 to confine Japanese-Americans during World War II. The first incarcerees arrived on August 12, 1942, by train. At its peak, the camp’s population was more than 10,000.

Although Heart Mountain’s time and place may feel distant for many, it’s easy to explore this dark episode in American history online with resources from Wyoming libraries and archives.

The American Heritage Center (AHC) recently posted an article on their blog, “Heart Mountain Through Pencil and Paper,” exploring the work of Estelle Ishigo. Although she was not of Japanese descent, so not required to relocate, she accompanied her husband to the Heart Mountain site when he was sent there. Her drawings detailed the life of the camp throughout their time there.

The Wyoming Digital Newspaper Collection has issues of the Heart Mountain Sentinel, the newspaper published in the camp from 1942-1945.

If you’d like an overview before digging in more deeply, we recommend the special exhibit on Heart Mountain found in Wyoming Places. It pulls from American Heritage Center and Wyoming Digital Newspaper Collection resources. The exhibit details topics about the camp such as relocation, farming, education, medicine, recreation, residents’ military service, and what happened after the war. Ishigo’s work is also featured, courtesy of the AHC.

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