A barrack originally built at the ‚ÄúHeart Mountain Relocation Center‚Äù will be coming ‚Äúhome‚Äù to the National Historic Landmark site this summer. The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation (HMWF) will be saving it from demolition, and we need your help to move it back to Heart Mountain.¬†
After the closing of the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in 1945, homesteaders were given access to many of the buildings and quickly removed them. As a result, the Heart Mountain WWII Japanese American Confinement Site consists of only a few original structures. Many of the repurposed buildings have endured through the years, and they dot the Western Wyoming landscape.
The donated structure is a complete barrack (now situated about 81 miles away in Shell, WY). Iowa State University has utilized the structure at their field station in Shell to house visiting students for 50 years. After the current school year, Iowa State University had intended to demolish the building to make way for new housing. We have the opportunity to save the structure and bring it back to Heart Mountain. Not only would be be saving a piece of crucial World War II and Big Horn Basin history, it¬†will be of great interpretive value for years to come. There were more than 700 buildings at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center during operation. Today, only five remain on the original site‚Äînone of which are barracks or block buildings.
The barrack would return to the Interpretive Center onto land once occupied by the Military Police, who were ordered to guard the camp. It will be placed back on the exact site where one of five previous barrack buildings sat, according to the original construction plan. In placing it where a barrack used to rest, we aim to maintain the historical integrity of the site as much as possible.
This is your¬†opportunity to be a part of a truly historic effort! We need local and national support to save this.¬†With its return, the barrack brings important historical significance as a powerful artifact of camp life and beyond. It will remain a fixture of the landscape that can speak not only to the Japanese American confinement during World War II but the extended homesteading and farming history in the Big Horn Basin. Iowa State University has generously donated the barrack, but the cost to save the building is substantial. The $140,000 will go toward the physical move of the structure and preparing the grounds and foundation for it's new placement. Factored in this total is also and immediate and ongoing preservation and restoration work to ensure the barrack will stand for years to come.¬†
The barrack represents many things: injustice and pain, but also perseverance and resourcefulness. Being back on this historic site will allow us to extend not only our preservation mission but our educational goals as well. Not to mention the gravity it will lend in reminding people of a mistake we must not repeat.