On-line Book
Book Cover
Cover Page


Table of Contents





Brief History

Gila River


Heart Mountain







Tule Lake

Isolation Centers

Add'l Facilities

Assembly Centers

DoJ and US Army Facilities



Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Confinement and Ethnicity:
Barbed wire divider
An Overview of World War II
Japanese American Relocation Sites

by J. Burton, M. Farrell, F. Lord, and R. Lord

clip art

Chapter 12 (continued)
Topaz Relocation Center

Central (Fenced) Area

Aerial view of the Topaz Relocation Center, 1993
Figure 12.10. Aerial view of the Topaz Relocation Center, 1993.
(Bureau of Land Management, Fillmore, Utah)
Prior to 1998, all of the residential and administrative portions of the relocation center site were owned by a local farmer, Mervin Williams, who lives in a mobile home placed on a concrete slab that was once the Block 28 mess hall foundation. In 1998 the Topaz Museum Board bought 417 acres from Mr. Williams to protect the relocation center site from development. Mr. Williams retained his home in Block 28, trailers and buildings in the adjacent blocks (35 and 42), and other areas along West 4500 North Street.

There are no World War II-era buildings remaining in the central portion of the relocation center, but concrete foundations are present at former latrines, mess halls, and warehouses, and at buildings in the administration area (Figure 12.10). Manholes remain and the internal roads are still evident, with some distinguishable by the original asphalt and others surfaced with gravel cinders (Figures 12.11 and 12.12).

The sentry post location at the main entrance to the relocation center is marked by some building debris and white-washed boulders. The entrance road leads south to a short stone masonry wall which outlines a parking area, with paths leading to the administration building (Figure 12.13). Further south is the fire station slab, a two-bay building with evidence of a shower, toilet, and washroom facilities (Figures 12.14 and 12.15). The only inscriptions seen at Topaz were a few partial names on the concrete entry ramp of the fire station. Numerous other concrete slabs, mostly from warehouses, occur in the administration area, as well as a few small entryway slabs of other building. There is one large concrete slab in the former garage area.

Two concrete slabs remain in the hospital area and there is a concrete coal-storage bin just north of the hospital area (Figure 12.16). From the bin a conveyor fed the coal to the adjacent furnace which generated heat for the hospital buildings. Structural brick and firebrick are still scattered around, and some parts of the conveyor belt system are still present at the bottom of the bin. Nearby, dozens of stove pipe elbows are concentrated in an old gravel parking lot (Figure 12.17). They were likely collected for recycling after the relocation center closed, but never reused.

In the residential blocks there are concrete slabs from the latrines/laundries and the mess halls, some broken, some intact (Figure 12.18). Where the barracks buildings had been there are abundant nails, pieces of tar paper, small boards, stove pipe, brick fragments, and ceramic electrical parts. There are still cooking stoves at several of the mess hall foundations in the eastern portion of the site (Figure 12.19). A concrete wash tub was found, broken and loose, on one of the latrine/laundry slabs (Figure 12.20).

Rock-lined ditch and culvert
Figure 12.22. Rock-lined ditch and culvert.
Remnants of raised gravel walkways are common in the barracks area. There was apparently little rock used in landscaping, no doubt due to the paucity of naturally occurring rock in the area. Only a few rock-outlined gardens and one small pond was seen. Other rock work now visible is limited to a rock-lined ditch and culvert at the northwest end of Block 4 (Figure 12.22), and concrete and gravel paths with scattered rocks and boulders at the location of the Buddhist church in Block 17. Much of the details of walkways and paths within the residential area were probably destroyed when the pipes of the water system were dug up for salvage. Other recent ground disturbance has been caused by the construction of ditches to drain surface water.

Very little evidence of athletic fields or other recreational areas was seen. There were no signs of the football field or basketball courts known to have been in Blocks 24 and 25. Baseball backstop remnants were found in Blocks 15, 24, and 25 (Figure 12.23). The area south of Blocks 36 and 37, which contained several baseball fields and other sports facilities, now exhibit only discarded trash and debris.

Photo Album

Continued Continue


Last Modified: Fri, Sep 1 2000 07:08:48 pm PDT

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