Heart Mountain Internment Camp Featured in New Digital Exhibit

The relocation center at Heart Mountain in 1943. At its peak, the internment camp housed more than 10,000 people. Learn more in our online digital exhibit.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. That event, 76 years ago today, marked the United States’ entry into World War II and touched off events that led to tens of thousands of Japanese-American citizens and long-term residents being removed from their homes on the West Coast and shipped to internment camps in the nation’s interior.

The Heart Mountain Relocation Center, located between Powell and Cody, Wyoming, was one of these confinement camps. The site marked its 75th anniversary in 2017. Heart Mountain’s facilities were constructed in the summer of 1942, with the first incarcerees arriving by train on August 12 of that year.

The Wyoming State Library invites you to explore this piece of the state’s history in our new online exhibit, “Heart Mountain Japanese-American Internment Camp.” The exhibit begins with the story of the forced relocation and delves into the life of the camp — farming, education, medical services, and recreation. Of particular note were Japanese-Americans who enlisted or were drafted from the internment camps and fought in the military.

After the war, incarcerees were left to try to rebuild their lives. Many had lost homes, businesses, savings, and more. It was not until the 1990s that survivors received redress payments and an apology from the government.

View the exhibit.

Materials for the exhibit were taken from the Heart Mountain Sentinel in Wyoming Newspapers and from the Estelle Ishigo Photographs digital collection at the American Heritage Center.

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  1. Cyndee

    On the pbs channel they talk about Heart Mountain. They focused on one man, who was in the cub or boy scout and became friends with Alan Simpson or maybe his brother Pete. Am I correct on this or off the mark?

    • Susan

      That’s a great question. I looked for the PBS video, and found a panel discussion on Wyoming Immigration Policy that was held at Heart Mountain Sen. Alan Simpson was on the panel, so he may have shared the story there. The video is at http://video.wyomingpbs.org/video/2365702898/. I also searched Google Books and found the story in the book, “Shooting from the Lip: The Life of Senator Al Simpson” by Donald Loren Hardy. You may find it there by searching with the term “Heart Mountain Alan Simpson” (Leave the quotation marks off when you search.) The short answer is yes, Alan Simpson did befriend a Japanese-American boy through the Boy Scouts

  2. Virginia Livingston

    Here’s what I remember hearing from Grandpa Livingston’s (Glenn E. Livingston) boy scouts. He took them to the camp to camp out because the Japanese American boy scouts were not allowed to leave. Alan saidtold me that he & Norm Mineta diverted rain water from around their tent into the other boys’ tents & which formed the basis of their long friendship.

    • Susan

      What a great story. Thanks for sharing it!

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