Copy of Save-A-Barrack

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A complete, full-length barrack built at the “Heart Mountain Relocation Center” during World War II has come “home” to the National Historic Landmark site. With a tremendous response from individual donors and organizations, the barrack has been rescued from demolition near Shell, WY—about 80 miles from Heart Mountain.

The barrack was donated by Iowa State University (ISU), which had been using it for housing at their geology field studies station just outside of Shell for more than 50 years. Though the building outlived its useful life there, ISU recognized its historical significance and offered it to the HMWF. ISU, which originally had three barracks, was aiming to demolish the building last year to make way for new housing but delayed their project to allow the HMWF to remove the building. The official move began on August 9 by O’Neil Company of Williston, N.D., with the first segment of the barrack arriving August 10 and the move continuing throughout the week without issue. 

While many former barracks dot the Wyoming landscape, it is rare to find a complete one, measuring the full 120 feet long by 20 feet wide. Most barracks that have survived have been dismantled, split or modified to create houses or outbuildings. More than 450 barracks were originally constructed on the Heart Mountain site. After the camp closed in 1945, the government sold many of the barracks to area residents and municipalities for $1 each, provided they could remove them from the site. Despite the number of barracks built at Heart Mountain during World War II, none of them remained on the historic site—until now.

After being moved from Heart Mountain, it was one of several barracks that the city of Greybull used for veteran’s housing. It endured another move to the ISU geology field station in 1958. Because it has been cut into three sections during these two previous moves, the building had to be moved back to Heart Mountain in three pieces to ensure its structural integrity. To maintain historical accuracy at the Heart Mountain site, the barrack has returned to where there once stood five barracks as part of the Military Police complex. 

It will now remain a fixture of the landscape that can speak not only to the Japanese American confinement during World War II but the extended Big Horn Basin history.

We are grateful for those who have given so far and for two major grants from the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund and the Foundation for the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming. All of the donors have contributed to a truly historic effort to save history. Though the move of the barrack is complete, we must continue to generate support and funds for the project.

The next phase of work will provide for further restoration (stabilization, window and door repair, basic electric service, etc.) and the addition of interpretation. We are two-thirds of the way to go. Help us to the finish line!

The structure represents many things: injustice and pain, but also perseverance and resourcefulness. Returning it to this historic site will allow us to extend our preservation mission and educational goals. It will also serve as a powerful reminder of a mistake we must not repeat. Be a part of this historic effort with a contribution.