Touring the Historic Site
When Manzanar War Relocation Center closed in 1945, most of the buildings were sold as scrap lumber or moved to private property throughout the Owens Valley. Besides the original sentry posts and auditorium, most of what remains consists of foundations, concrete slabs, and garden features. The National Park Service adaptively restored the auditorium as an interpretive center with exhibits and a film. Eventually two barracks, a mess hall, a guard tower, and some rock gardens will be reconstructed or restored.
While taking this one-way auto tour, imagine what daily life was like when 10,000 people of Japanese ancestry lived here. Stop occasionally and walk through the site. Please do your part to protect Manzanar. Do not disturb, collect, or remove any artifacts or natural features.
1. Entrance Stonemason-internee Ryozo Kado built the military police sentry post and internal police post in 1942.
2. Police Station Internees gathered here December 6, 1942, to protest the jailing of Harry Ueno, who was accused of beating a fellow internee. Two internees were killed and 10 were wounded when military police fired on the crowd. The incident became known as the “Manzanar Riot.”
3. Newspaper Internees published the Manzanar Free Press in Building 1 in the southeast corner of this block. The newspaper was self-supporting through subscriptions and advertising.
4. Administrative Section Offices and housing for the War Relocation Authority (WRA) staff and their families were located here, along with a post office and town hall.
5. Bachelor’s Block Block 2 residents included about 100 Japanese Americans who volunteered to help build the center in March 1942.
6. Manzanar High School The school, located here in Block 7, opened in October 1942 and graduated classes in 1943, 1944, and 1945.
7. Auditorium Constructed by internees in 1944, this building housed a gymnasium and a stage for plays, graduation ceremonies, and other social functions. Today it serves as an interpretive center.
8. Fire Department The fire department, in the center of Block 13 near A Street, responded to occasional fires caused by short circuits and kitchen mishaps.
9. South Firebreak Tennis, volleyball, and basketball courts were located in this area, one of two east-west firebreaks.
10. Typical Block Building locations in Block 14 are marked to illustrate the layout of a typical block. A historic mess hall was moved here in December 2002. The National Park Service plans to eventually restore additional buildings to this block.
11. Photographer’s Quarters Toyo Miyatake, a professional photographer from Los Angeles, lived here in Block 20. He smuggled a camera lens into the camp but eventually was allowed to document daily life. A few of his photos appear in this brochure.
12. Homestead The Kemp/Lenbeck Farm was located near the locust trees in the early 1900s.
13. Baseball Fields Two of the larger baseball fields were situated here in the North Firebreak between Blocks 19 and 25.
14. Catholic Church Roman Catholic internees attended services at the St. Francis Xavier parish in the Block 25 Recreation Building.
15. Manzanar Town Site The center of the town of Manzanar, established in 1910, was 350 yards to the east. The town had about 25 homes in the mid-1920s, when Los Angeles was purchasing water rights in the area.
16. Shepherd Ranch From 1864 to 1905, John Shepherd raised cattle, horses, mules, and grain here. George Chaffey purchased Shepherd’s holdings in 1905, established the town of Manzanar, and promoted the growing of apples.
17. Orchards South of the tour road are more than 100 remaining fruit trees planted by Chaffey’s Owens Valley Improvement Company around 1910.
18. Garden Immediately south of the tour road at H Street is Block 34’s mess hall garden, one of the most elaborate gardens in the relocation center.
19. Wilder Farm Romeo Wilder and his family raised apples here from 1908 to 1925. He named Manzanar in 1908. Remains of the Wilder home are located about 50 feet west of the tour road.
20. Hospital Stone and concrete steps, a pond, and floor slabs of the hospital laundry, heating room, and morgue can be seen west of the tour route.
21. Children’s Village One hundred and one children of Japanese ancestry were housed in an orphanage 125 yards southeast of the tour road.
22. Cemetery Fifteen of the 150 people who died at the relocation center were buried here; most of the others were cremated. Six burials remain today. Relatives removed the other nine after the war.
23. Buddhist Temple One of three Buddhist temples was located here. The other two were in Blocks 13 and 27.
24. Garden Residents of Block 12 built an elaborate garden next to their mess hall, as did residents of several other blocks.
25. Blocks 9 and 10 Some of the first internees, from Terminal Island near San Pedro, Calif., were housed here.
26. Block 3 Two hundred and twenty-seven Japanese Americans from Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, arrived by train April 1, 1942, and lived in this block.
27. Net Factory Internees produced camouflage netting for the U.S. military in 1942 at a factory southwest of the intersection of D and Manzanar Streets.