Colorado’s Camp Amache will soon become a US national park

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Located just a mile outside the small town of Granada, Colorado near the Kansas border, a site that once wrongfully imprisoned thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II will commemorate this story soon by becoming a park in the US national park system.

US President Joe Biden has signed the Amache National Historic Site Act that will allow the area of ​​the former Grenada resettlement center – called Camp Amache by the thousands of Japanese Americans who have been there taken against their will at the height of the Second World War – to become Amache National Historic Site and part of the national parks system.

“Designating the Amache site as part of our national park system is a way to honor the survivors and descendants of Camp Amache who continue to share their stories, help us learn more about their experiences, and ensure that we will never repeat this painful chapter in our nation’s history,” the White House said. in a tweet announcing the historic site’its new designation.

The site is currently maintained by the Amache Preservation Society, which was founded by Grenada Secondary School Principal John Hopper and is made up of student volunteers from the secondary school. Students tend to the site and travel across Kansas and Colorado to educate people about Japanese internment camps and Amache’s role in this dark chapter of American history.

More than two months after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the removal of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans from the West Coast of the United States. The War Relocation Authority built 10 incarceration camps inland in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.

History of Camp Amache

The Grenada Resettlement Center began construction in June 1942 and opened on August 27, 1942.

According to the Amache Preservation Society website, the camp would eventually cover one square mile and consist of 29 “blocks” of barracks, with each barrack consisting of six apartments. Each apartment would have a coal stove, military beds, a light bulb in the center of each room, and a cushion or blanket.

But, when the first Japanese Americans arrived in August 1942, construction was not complete. There were only two blocks of barracks, a refectory and toilets. APS says the families have decorated their homes through their own ingenuity, crafting furniture from reclaimed wood sourced from across the camp.

At its peak in 1943, the camp held more than 7,318 Japanese Americans against their will.

Camp Amache officially closed on October 15, 1945. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 18, 1994 and designated a National Historic Landmark on February 10, 2005.

When will Amache become a national park?

This is only the first step to becoming a national park. Although it is allowed to be part of the national parks system, there is still a lot to be done in terms of land acquisition (the land is currently owned by the city of Granada) and planning with stakeholders to make it a Alone.

“The acquisition process is expected to take approximately two years, pending approval of acquisition financing to establish legal land descriptions, required environmental site assessments and agreements on the maintenance of the city’s water system. city,” the NPS said on its website.

Once established, Amache National Historic Site will become the 424th park in the national park system.

The visitor information board by the restored barracks at Camp Amache in Granada, Colorado. © Denver Post via Getty Images

Can I visit the Amache National Historic Site now?

Yes. The historical site is open during the day and is not closed.

Visitors should be advised that there are currently no toilets on site. It can also get very hot during the heat of the day, so plan your visit for the cooler hours of the early morning or early evening.

Separately there is a Amache Museum located in downtown Granada. Currently, you must plan a private tour in advance to enter the museum as high school students attend these tours.

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