War Relocation Centers

image of US with states outlined and locations of Japanese American confinement sites labeled
Image of "War Relocation Centers" and their peak populations.



Location: Inyo County, California
Environmental Conditions: Located at 3,900 feet at the eastern base of the Sierra Nevada in the Owens Valley. Temperatures reach well over 100 degrees in summer and below freezing in winter. Strong winds and dust storms are frequent.
Acreage: 6,000
Opened: March 21, 1942 (Owens Valley Reception Center); June 1, 1942 (Manzanar War Relocation Center).
Closed: November 21, 1945
Max. Population: 10,046 (September 22, 1942)
Demographics: Most people were from the Los Angeles area, Terminal Island, and the San Fernando Valley. Others came from the San Joaquin Valley and Bainbridge Island, Washington; the latter transferred to Minidoka in 1943.
Manzanar National Historic Site:

Tule Lake

Location: Modoc County, California
Environmental Conditions: Tule Lake War Relocation Center was located at an elevation of 4,000 feet on a flat and treeless terrain with sandy soil. Winters are long and cold and summers hot and dry. Vegetation is sparse.
Acreage: 7,400
Opened: May 25, 1942
Closed: March 20,1946
Max. Population: 18 ,789 (December 25, 1944)
Demographics: Originally, more than 3,000 people were sent directly to Tule Lake from the Sacramento, Pinedale, Pomona, Salinas, and Marysville assembly centers. Once Tule Lake became a segregation center, the population came from all other camps and Hawaii.
Tule Lake National Monument:

Topaz (Central Utah)

Location: Millard County, 16 miles NW of Delta, UT.
Environmental Conditions: elevation 4,600 ft, within the Sevier Desert – high desert brush with high winds and temperatures ranging from 106 degrees in summer to -30 degrees in winter.
Acreage: 19,800
Opened: September 11, 1942
Closed: October 31, 1945
Max. Population: 8,130 (March 17, 1943)
Demographics: People came primarily from the San Francisco Bay Area, predominantly from Tanforan Assembly Center.
Topaz Museum:

Heart Mountain

Location: Park County, Wyoming
Environmental Conditions: Located on a terrace of the Shoshone River at an elevation of 4,700 feet. The terrain was open sagebrush desert.
Acreage: 20,000
Opened: August 11, 1942
Closed: November 10, 1945
Max. Population: 10,767 (January 1, 1943)
Demographics: Most people came from Los Angeles, Santa Clara, and San Francisco counties in California and Yakima and Washington counties in Washington. Many came through the Santa Anita and Pomona assembly centers in CA.
Heart Mtn. Foundation:

Minidoka (Hunt)

Location: Jerome County, Idaho
Environmental Conditions: elevation 4,000 ft – high desert. Temperatures ranged from the low 100s in summer to –30 in the winter. When the rains came in autumn the entire camp turned to mud, often knee deep.
Acreage: 33,000
Opened: August 10, 1942
Closed: October 28, 1945
Max. Population: 9,397 (March 1, 1943)
Demographics: People primarily came from Seattle, WA, Portland, OR, and surrounding areas. In 1943, 1,900 incarcerees from Tule Lake and 227 incarcerees from Manzanar (originally from Bainbridge Island, WA) were transferred to Minidoka at their request. Additionally, approximately 200 Japanese Alaskans were incarcerated at Minidoka.
Minidoka National Historic Site:

Granada (Amache)

Location: Prowers County, Colorado
Environmental Conditions: Located on a hilltop at 3,500 ft., Granada was arid and dusty.
Acreage: 10,500
Opened: August, 27, 1942
Closed: January 27, 1946
Max Population: 7,597 (October 1942)
Demographics: Most people came from Los Angeles, Sonoma, Yolo, Stanislaus, Sacramento, and Merced counties via the Merced and Santa Anita assembly centers. The population was equally split between urban and rural backgrounds.
Amache Preservation Society:

Gila River

Location: Southern Arizona
Environmental Conditions: Located in the desert, temperatures reached 125 degrees, with summer temperatures consistently over 100 degrees. Dust storms were also a frequent problem.
Opened: July 10, 1942
Closed: Canal Camp: September 28, 1945
Butte Camp: November 10, 1945
Max. Population: 13,348 (November 1942)
Demographics: People primarily came from Fresno, Santa Barbara, San Joaquin, Solano, Contra Costa, Ventura and Los Angeles Counties via the Turlock, Tulare, and Santa Anita assembly centers. Three thousand people came directly to Gila River from their west coast homes.

Poston (Colorado River)

Location: La Paz County, AZ (Yuma County during WWII)
Environmental Conditions: elevation 320 ft – lower Sonoran desert near Colorado River – perhaps the hottest of all the camps.
Acreage: 71,000. Poston was the largest camp by area.
Opened: BIA administered the center when it was an assembly center, and after it became a relocation center until December 1943 when WRA took full control. Date of first arrival was May 8, 1942
Closed: November 28, 1945
Max. Population: 17,814 (September 2, 1942)
Demographics: People were from Kern County, Fresno, Monterey Bay Area, Sacramento County, southern Arizona, and southern CA (including San Diego). They came from the Mayer, Salinas, Santa Anita, and Pinedale assembly centers.
Poston Community Alliance:


Location: Desha County, Arkansas
Environmental Conditions: Rohwer War Relocation Center was located five miles west of the Mississippi River in a swampy area intertwined with canals, creeks, and bayous. Forests had once covered the area, but by 1940 had been replaced by agricultural fields. Rohwer was at an elevation of 140 feet.
Acreage: 10,161
Opened: September 18, 1942
Closed: November 30, 1944
Max. Population: 8,475 (March 11, 1943)
Demographics: Most people incarcerated at Rohwer War Relocation Center came from Los Angeles and San Joaquin counties in California via the Santa Anita and Stockton assembly centers.
Arkansas State University, WWII Japanese American Internment Museum:


Location: Chicot and Drew Counties, Arkansas
Environmental Conditions: Jerome War Relocation Center was located 12 miles from the Mississippi River at an elevation of 130 feet. The area was once covered with forests, but has become primarily agricultural land. The Big and Crooked Bayous flowed from north to south in the central and eastern part of the relocation center.
Acreage: 10,000
Opened: October 6, 1942
Closed: June 1944
Max. Population: 8,497 (November 1942)
Demographics: Most people incarcerated at Jerome War Relocation Center came from Los Angeles, Fresno, and Sacramento counties in California, through the Santa Anita and Fresno assembly centers. 811 people came from Hawaii.

US Department of Justice & Army Facilities

During World War II, the US Immigration and Naturalization Service, part of the US Department of Justice, held more than 7,000 immigrants of Japanese Ancestry, and some citizens. There were 27 Department of Justice camps, eight of which (in Texas, Idaho, North Dakota, New Mexico, and Montana) held people of Japanese ancestry. The camps were guarded by US Border Patrol agents rather than miltary police and were intended for non-citizens including Buddhist and Shinto ministers, Japanese language teachers, newspaper workers, and other community leaders. The US State and Justice Departments took 2,210 persons of Japanese ancestry from 12 Latin American countries and held them in Department of Justice camps. Approximately 1,800 were Japanese Peruvians. The U.S. intended to use them in potential hostage exchanges with Japan. After the war, 1,400 were refused return to their Latin American homes and more than 900 Japanese Peruvians were “voluntarily” deported to Japan. Three hundred fought deportation in the courts and were eventually allowed to settle in the U.S. At least 14 US Army facilities also held people of Japanese ancestry during World War II. Four of the facilities were in Hawaii, one was in Alaska; the remaining nine facilities were in the contiguous United States.

Manzanar National Historic Site, Minidoka National Historic Site, Tule Lake National Monument

Last updated: March 20, 2023