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Japanese Internment Camp Monument.

Japanese Internment Camp Monument

Field review by the editors.

Poston, Arizona

In the summer of 1942, scant months after the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, almost 18,000 Japanese-Americans from California, Oregon, and Washington were shipped to what was euphemistically called a "relocation center" but was more like a prison camp. Fifty years later, no trace of the old camp remained, but its survivors dedicated a monument to mark the spot. It was erected in cooperation with the four Colorado River Indian Tribes who own the surrounding land (and who had their own bad memories of forced relocation). The monument resembles a giant gun barrel pointing skyward out of the top of a small pagoda.

Plaques on the pagoda give the flavor of camp life, recalling "the relentless summer sun" and "blinding dust storms" and "chilling winds" in winter that "easily penetrated the walls of the flimsily built tar paper barracks," as well as "infrequent but torrential rains" that quickly turned the camp "into a slippery, treacherous, and muddy quagmire." Photos of the camp, etched into the metal plaques, have already been bleached invisible by the desert sun.

On a happy note, one plaque explains that the infrastructure that was built to banish the Japanese made possible post-war irrigation and hydroelectric projects that make this little corner of Arizona one of the few places in the state that can grow crops.

Japanese Internment Camp Monument

23701 Mohave Rd (next to), Poston, AZ
I-10 to exit 1, then north on Hwy 1 to mile marker 26. On the south edge of town, on the east side of Hwy 1. Right next to the C.R.I.T. Fire Station on Mohave Rd.
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