This summer, the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation broke ground on an exciting new project. With the help of a Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant from the National Park Service, we began the first phase of restoration on root cellar. While the grant will cover much of the cost of this project, we need to complete the work. We are now working to raise $65,000 to complete this critical first phase of our grant obligations.
The root cellar is special in many ways. It is the only surviving camp structure built entirely by Japanese Americans. Construction began in the summer of 1943, as part of the camp's agriculture program. That year, the incarcerated laborers of the agriculture program accomplished what was known as the Heart Mountain Miracle turning a dry Wyoming desert into verdant farmland in less than a year.
The cellar, built to hold produce from those fields, is more than 300 feet long and nearly 40 feet wide. Yet, it held less than half of the vegetables needed to feed the Heart Mountain camp. Another identical cellar, now collapsed, once stood next to it. Without proper restoration, our cellar will suffer the same fate as its twin. The current project, which will only stabilize 32 feet of the structure, is just the beginning.
The root cellar tells the story of a Japanese American community that refused to be broken, and overcame incredible odds to feed and care for its people. We look forward to the day when we will be able to safely open the cellar for public tours. We ask that you help us in raising the funds necessary to complete these first steps. Any amount raised beyond our initial goal will go toward future restoration of the cellar. Together, we can keep this important piece of history standing, a witness for future generations.