Monday, July 16, 2012

Forgotten Heart Mountain....


Among the mountains of Wyoming, the wind blows through a forgotten and haunted group of buildings. The Heart Mountain Relocation Camp. It was a dark piece of our history, and is the only one of it's kind in Wyoming. Heart Mountain Internment camp was built at the desolate, treeless, base of Heart Mountain, Wyoming. It would go on to house more than 10,000 Japanese Americans from August 12, 1942 to November 10, 1944. It was known for the harshest living conditions of any of the internment camps, especially since many of it's "residents" were from the coastal areas of California. The camp officially shut down in 1944. But do some of these displaced souls still walk the crumbling, wind-blown halls, searching for a way back to their lost homes? Follow LRS as we explore this forlorn and lonely site on the segment of LRS Myths, Legends, and Tales from the Road...
     The camp was originally quite the subject of discussion for both the citizens of Powell and Cody. Neither wanted the camp anywhere near their town, nor it's internee's in their town. The site of Heart Mountain was finally chosen due to it's proximity to the Shoshone and the Vocation Railroad. The river would provide the water supply, the Vocation line the transportation for Heart Mountain's "guests". The building were built of tar paper in most cases, had one stove for heat and housed families up to 6 people. Constructions was not finished with the first trainload of internee's arrived in 1942 during a brutal dust storm, that the tar paper buildings couldn't stand up to.

     The initial camp ground consisted of 468 barrack type buildings sectioned into 20 blocks. The barrack were given one stove, one fixture for light, and the internees were issued two blankets and an army cot. They were to share shower, toilet and eating facilities. By October 1942 10,000 internees were living at the camp. They were kept at Heart Mountain by Barbed wire fences stretching between 9 guard towers with high power search lights, and manned by armed military police. 

Despite the harsh conditions, many Japanese-Americans jumped at the opportunity to serve their country in the armed services during World War II. There is a monument still standing today. The camp closed in 1944 and the residents were allowed to return home or to wherever they chose. The site largely stood abandoned, and the building have been sold to locals and put to use for other things.
About 40 building remain standing to this day. Those who have stopped to view the memorial and walk the wind haunted buildings, pondering this sad piece of our history, have reported feeling watched. There have been reports of visitors being touched, and the sound of crying. We'll stop and pay our respects at the memorial to the 900 brave soldiers who fought and died for our country, despite their horrible treatment. After paying our respects, we'll motor on in our quest to reach Sturgis, with the ghosts of Heart Mountain hopefully at rest. Stay tuned for our next segment of LRS Myths, Legends and Tales from the Road....


  1. I have no sympathy for anyone who spent time at this camp or any of the others we built. You see, my dad was captured in the Philippines by the Japanese the day they attacked Pearl Harbor. He spent the entire second world war as a slave to the Japanese in two of their concentration camps. And let me tell you, the Japanese are the cruelest and most hateful people on this planet. Don't be swayed by their innocent looks.

    1. Oh Carl
      How sad your
      Life must be. I'm sorry for your loss but to blame Americans for the evil of enemy soldiers is at a minimum as evil and racist as those who harmed your family… you are to be the most pittyed of men.
      Jim Carlson of Spokane WA.