Sunday, May 12, 2019

Manzanar National Historic Site

After leaving Alabama Hills on 05 May, we stopped briefly in Lone Pine for some more groceries and at the post office to mail some things and pick up a General Delivery item for Margaret. We got on our way with plans to stop just 12 miles north at the Manzanar National Historic Site, known officially beginning June 1, 1942 to its closing as the Manzanar War Relocation Center.

 The sign's appearance hasn't changed. All photos by Virginia.

The restored sentry posts at the entrance.

Manzanar (Spanish for "apple orchard") was the first of ten military-style camps established to house Japanese-Americans who were to be "excluded" from the general population after the signing of Executive Order 9066 by President Roosevelt. By July 1942, the incarcerated population of Manzanar was nearly 10,000. Those people had been taken from their homes and transported here to suffer the harsh desert climate extremes, primitive barracks, lack of privacy, waiting in lines for meals and latrines, and working at one of the many jobs intended to make the camp self-sufficient. The camp remained open until November 21, 1945, when the War Relocation Authority forced those incarcerated to leave and gave each person only $25 and a one-way bus ticket to a new life.

Manzanar was named a California Historical Landmark in 1972; and in February 1985, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places by being designated as a National Historic Landmark. The visitor center is housed in the former Manzanar High School Auditorium.

 
 The visitor center with the Eastern Sierra Nevada in the background.

The 814-acre site also contains, among other things, restored sentry posts, a replica guard tower, reconstructed residential barracks, the ruins of several gardens, several building foundations, and portions of the sewer and water system.

California Historical Marker.

National Historic Site sign. 

We spent about two hours on the grounds, most of that time in the impressive 8,000 sq. ft. visitor center.

A guard tower replica. 

The Layers of History exhibit.

Flags representing the ten relocation camps.

 War Relation Authority (WRA) exhibit.

ID Tag Station exhibit. 

I thought the exhibits, tone, and mood of the site was somber, respectful, and effective in portraying what life was like for those incarcerated there. I was particularly moved by this large graphic that listed the names of the over 10,000 Japanese-Americans who spent time at Manzanar during World War II.

This rafter-high graphic makes a powerful statement. 

We watched the film, Remembering Manzanar, looked at all the exhibits, and browsed the book store. We were in the Visitor Center until close to closing time; so we left there to drive the 3.2 mile auto tour loop, stopping at the cemetery. The cemetery, where only five graves of the fifteen who were buried there remain. In total, 146 of those incarcerated died at Manzanar.

 The auto tour was well marked and offered many points of interest.

The Manzanar Cemetery.

  The "Soul Consoling Tower" by incarceree stonemason, Ryozo Kado.

In pop culture, Manzanar features prominently or is mentioned in several motion pictures, such as: Snow Falling on Cedars, Come See the Paradise, The Karate Kid, and the television movie, Farewell to Manzanar. It has also been referenced in the television show Cold Case.


[Note: Clicking on the photos in the post will open them in a larger view. If you want to see more photos of the beautiful places we've written about, we have them in this Flickr Collection: Over the Hill Sisters Photo Collection.]


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