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

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Chapter 4 (continued)
Gila River Relocation Center

Canal Camp covered a narrow 210-acre area three blocks north-south and slightly more than nine blocks east-west in the eastern part of the reserve at the southern boundary (Figure 4.5). Bounding the camp on the north was the South Side Canal; on the south was a raised earthen dike that had been constructed to protect the canal from flash floods. The camp was separated by firebreaks into three groups of nine blocks each. The blocks were numbered from 1 to 27, starting in the northeast corner and proceeding west to Block 9. The next row began with Block 10 just south of Block 9, with numbers ascending back to the east to 18. The southernmost row started with 19 at the east edge, increasing to 27 at the southwest corner. The firebreaks were not numbered. North-south streets were numbered from west to east, east-west streets were lettered with "A" on the south and "D" on the north. "D" Street led west to Butte Camp and east to Casa Grande.

Canal Camp, Gila River Relocation Center
Figure 4.5. Canal Camp, Gila River Relocation Center.
(National Archives)
(click image for larger size (~125K) )

water tank, Canal Camp
Figure 4.6. Water tank at Canal Camp.
(National Archives photograph)
The military police were housed in a compound just east of Canal Camp. The 15 buildings in the compound included five barracks, a mess hall, a classroom, a post exchange, a latrine, a headquarters building, an officers' quarters, an infirmary, a storage building, a guardhouse (jail for military personnel), and a motor vehicle repair shop. Along "D" Street northeast of the military police compound there was an 8-foot-by-10-foot sentry post. Another sentry post was located well north of the two camps along the road to Phoenix.

Canal Camp itself included 404 buildings, 44 of which were devoted to administration and hospital use. Most of the administration and hospital buildings were located in the three blocks (1, 18, and 19) along the eastern edge of the camp. Block 1 had an apartment building, a dormitory, a recreation hall, a mess hall, a ten-car garage, and the hospital. The hospital included a convalescent ward, an infirmary, and an out-patient clinic. The hospital also ran a "diet kitchen" in Block 16. Between Block 1 and the military police compound the evacuees constructed six apartment buildings, a dormitory, and a laundry for additional staff housing. South of Block 1, in Blocks 18 and 19 there were 12 warehouses, a refrigerated warehouse, an office, two food preservation plant buildings, a plumbing and electrical shop, and a latrine. East of these blocks there was a carpenter shop, an underground gas tank, and a 50,000-gallon elevated water tank (Figure 4.6).

Centrally located north of Block 5, between the evacuee residential area and the South Side Canal, there was a 40 foot by 120 foot administration office building and a fire station (Figure 4.7).

administration building, Canal Camp
Figure 4.7. Administration building at Canal Camp.
(National Archives photograph)
North across the canal from the administration office building were two deep water wells, a pumping station, a 250,000-gallon water storage tank, and an evacuee-constructed vegetable packing shed. The post office and two additional administration offices were located in buildings within Block 16. An evacuee-constructed ice storage building was south of Block 23, between the evacuee residential area and the protective dike. Canal Camp had its own sewage treatment plant -1/2 mile west of the residential area. A sewage pumping station west of Block 9 pumped sewage to the plant, which was about 20 feet higher in elevation.

The 360 buildings at Canal Camp devoted to evacuee residential uses included 232 Barracks, 16 mess halls, 17 ironing rooms, 17 laundry rooms, 34 latrine and shower buildings, 24 school buildings, and 20 community service buildings. Each of the 17 evacuee residential blocks included fourteen 20 foot by 100 foot barracks, a mess hall, a men's latrine and shower building, a women's latrine and shower building, a laundry room, an ironing room, a recreation building, and a 1,000-gallon fuel oil tank. The recreation buildings and some of the barracks were used for churches, meeting rooms, classrooms, libraries, and other community services. The ironing rooms were reportedly never used for their intended purposes, and all were eventually converted to storage rooms for mess hall supplies.

auditorium, Canal Camp
Figure 4.8. Auditorium under construction at Canal Camp.
(WRA photograph, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley)
The evacuees ameliorated the harshness of their surroundings by planting gardens, building fish ponds, and planting trees for shade. Small canals were excavated to provide irrigation. Block 13, in the middle of the evacuee residential area, was used for elementary and high schools. An outdoor stage was located in the northeast corner of the firebreak west of Block 13. In Block 12, a vacant block to the west of the schools, the evacuees constructed an auditorium/gym (Figure 4.8), a science laboratory, a home economics building, and a vocational arts (shop/crafts) building. Athletic fields were located in the remaining vacant blocks (Blocks 2, 11, 14, 15, 17) and in firebreaks.

Continued Continue


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

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