Historic Resource Study/Special History Study
NPS Logo


MANZANAR SITE, 1947-1960s

During the postwar years, the City of Los Angeles leased much of the acreage of the former relocation center site at Manzanar to local ranchers for grazing purposes. This activity would constitute the primary use of the land for the next several decades. [42]

During the postwar years, veterans as well as Los Angeles Department of Water and Power employees, continued to live in the Manzanar Housing Project in the former WRA appointed personnel housing area in the southeast corner of the one-time relocation center site. In August 1948, 126 persons were reportedly living in the project. [43]

In 1951, the housing project at Manzanar was terminated, and the buildings reverted back to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The department's records indicate that the vacant buildings were subjected to looting late in 1951. Accordingly, on March 15, 1952, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power held a public auction on the site for the sale and removal of the 26 buildings that had constituted the Manzanar Housing Project. The terms of the sale stated that the buildings were to be reduced "to parts not greater than flat panels" before removal from the site unless exceptions were authorized. Despite the sale terms, however, not all structures were reduced to "flat panels," because some are still in use throughout the Owens Valley today as dwellings and businesses. [44]

The auditorium was leased by Inyo County to the Veterans of Foreign Wars until November 5, 1951. Although the date is not definitely known, it is likely that a wing of the building was moved to Lone Pine for use as a hall by the Veterans of Foreign Wars prior to termination of the lease. Soon thereafter, the Inyo County Roads Department converted the auditorium for use as a garage to service its vehicles. The building would continue to be used as a garage by the department until 1995. [45]

On December 3, 1954, Mary F. Dean, leaser of the Goodale Ranch in Independence, was given permission by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to remove approximately 250 feet of 2-inch and 3-inch pipe from the ground to make repairs to the domestic water system on her ranch. The work was to be completed by January 31, 1955, the ground and ditches at Manzanar were to be left in a safe and satisfactory condition, and debris was to be cleared away. [46]


In 1941 the City of Los Angeles leased to Inyo County 619 acres of Department of Water and Power Land on the east side of the highway at Manzanar for airport construction. The 50-year lease, which was never recorded in the county records, provided that rental of the land would be equal to taxes and 50 percent of net profits. A provision in the lease provided that the instrument would terminate automatically should the land not be used for airport purposes for more than one year. The lease also provided that if the lease was terminated as a result of default by the county, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) could take over for the remainder of the term if it desired. On May 24, 1956, Inyo County notified the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power that it had abandoned the airport, that the CAA had consented to such abandonment and was not interested in the site, that the premises had not been used for airport purposes for more than one year, and that the county would regard the lease terminated as of July 1, 1956. In connection with the lease cancellation the county marked off the runways on July 18, 1956, and the wind sock and tower were removed on January 8, 1957. The Corps of Engineers indicated that it had no further interest in the airport on December 17, 1956. Later on July 7, 1958, LADWP employees removed electrical equipment, including the obstruction lights, arms, conduit, and wires for obstruction lights, for storage in the department's "Independence Warehouse." [47]

Thereafter, the land on which the former Manzanar airport had been located, was leased to local ranchers for grazing purposes and used for a variety of special events. From August 14 to September 1, 1957, the airport was used as a bivouac area for an advance party of the Nevada National Guard. Permission was granted to the State of California's Department of Fish and Game to use the land for coordination of an elk hunt during October 1969. During the period from October 30,1968, to February 1, 1969, Aerojet General of Downey, California, was granted permission to use the land and runways for experimental tests. During April 24-25, 1971, the airstrip was used for the First Annual Lone Pine-Manzanar Time Trials of the Clippinger-Corvair-Corvette Camaro Club. The event was hosted by the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club, and various area veterans organizations. The "Second Annual Lone Pine Time Trials" were held at the former airport on May 13-14, 1972. Later that spring and summer, the High Sierra Timing Association of Bishop held drag race meets at the former airport on June 4, July 9, August 6, and September 3. [48]

<<< Previous <<< Contents >>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 01-Jan-2002