Last updated: June 5, 2018
The Granada Relocation Center is located near the town of Granada, Colorado. The relocation center, known more commonly as Camp Amache or Amache was one of 10 centers constructed in the United States during World War II for the purpose of interning Japanese Americans and people of Japanese descent. More than 10,000 people passed through Camp Amache and, at its peak, it housed over 7,300 internees, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens. Today, the Granada Relocation Center site consists of a cemetery, a monument, building foundations, and landscaping.
After Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941, led to the United States' entry into World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942. The Order authorized the establishment of military areas encompassing most of the West Coast of the United States, "from which any or all persons may be excluded." This allowed for the removal from these areas of Japanese Americans and those of Japanese ancestry, out of fear that they might support Japan in the war. In March 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9102, which established the War Relocation Authority (WRA), the federal agency responsible for the evacuation, relocation, and internment of Japanese Americans and the construction and administration of relocation centers throughout the United States. The U.S. military supported Executive Order 9066 by assembling and transporting the evacuees. Through Executive Order 9066 came Proclamation No.1, initially a policy of voluntary participation to relocate that soon became mandatory, forcing some 120,000 Japanese Americans and those of Japanese ancestry to move to 10 inland relocation centers across the nation.
In 1942, an area in southeastern Colorado was selected as a relocation center camp site by the WRA. Governor Ralph L. Carr of Colorado had been the only western governor to welcome evacuees in his state, volunteering Colorado for a relocation center and urging acceptance and understanding for Japanese Americans. Land for the relocation center was acquired by the U.S. Army through a mix of purchase from private owners and condemnation. This made Camp Amache unique, as the other relocation centers were generally situated on existing federal land. In addition water rights for the existing irrigation system were purchased for the center's planned agricultural program. Camp Amache covered approximately 10,500 acres south of the Arkansas River, and extended three miles west and four miles east of the small town of Granada, Colorado.
Camp Amache had been under construction for only two months when it received its first 212 evacuees on August 27, 1942. Even though the center was not complete, 15 groups of evacuees moved into Amache over a three month period. By the end of October, Camp Amache had over 7,300 internees. The first winter at the center was particularly hard as most of the internees were from California and had no heavy clothing. A family consisting of seven or fewer members was assigned to one cramped room measuring 20 by 24 feet. The internees were allowed to decorate the rooms and attempted to make them as homelike as possible with shelves, partitions, and crude furniture made from scrap wood. While Camp Amache was the smallest of the 10 relocation centers, it was the tenth largest city in Colorado, and more than 10,000 people eventually passed through the center before it closed in 1945.
The central section of Camp Amache was 640 acres (one square mile), made up primarily of 29 blocks of Army-style barracks. Each block had a mess hall, laundry, toilets, and a shower room. There were also shared administrative facilities such as a hospital, school, recreation buildings, a public library, dry goods store, barber shop, sewage plant, and post office. The internees were encouraged to make improvements to the center and responded by constructing three koi ponds and gardens, and planting trees between rows of barracks. A barbed wire fence surrounded the central section of the center with six watch towers along the perimeter. As in most of the relocation centers, armed military police manned the towers.
The remaining 9,360 acres of Camp Amache were set aside for agriculture, which was its main industry. A majority of the center's internees came from California's central valleys and were seasoned farm workers. They turned Camp Amache into a productive agricultural center, raising beef and dairy cattle, poultry, and hogs and growing potatoes, onions, corn, alfalfa, and wheat. In 1943 and 1944, Amache had such good growing seasons that it produced a surplus of crops which were sold to the other relocation centers.
James G. Lindley was the project director from 1942 to 1945. Lindley oversaw the construction of the center, directed its agricultural program, and attempted to improve the internees' living conditions. In many ways, life at Amache was as difficult as at the other nine relocation centers; however, Lindley established programs and policies that eased some of the hardships for the internees.
In August 1944, 2,700 internees were given indefinite leave and in December the Exclusion Orders were lifted and the WRA began to urge internees to leave the relocation centers. Some families chose to remain at Camp Amache until the end of the school year in June 1945. For others, reverting back to outside life was a concern, especially after the hostility they had encountered during the war. Furthermore, many had been forced to give up almost all of their property and belongings when they were evacuated and they were now concerned about leaving the relocation center with little savings on which to live. In March 1945, 6,000 internees still remained at the center. Officials began urging the internees to return to California and parts of the center were sold or leased to local farmers. Camp Amache was closed on October 15, 1945.
After the war, Camp Amache's agricultural lands reverted to private farming and ranching while its buildings were demolished or removed. Today, the cemetery, a reservoir, a water well and tank, the road network, concrete foundations, watch towers, the military police compound, and trees planted by the internees still remain. In addition, the original security perimeter fence surrounds the site. Camp Amache is maintained by the Friends of Amache, which operates in partnership with the Amache Preservation Society, the Amache Club, the Amache Historical Society, and the Town of Granada.
The Granada Relocation Center (Camp Amache), a National Historic
Landmark, is located on CO-Rd 23 5/10, two miles west of Granada, CO, and is open to the public.For more information, visit the Amache Museum website.