Report to the President:
Japanese-American Internment Sites Preservation
Background: The Rohwer Relocation Center was constructed in 1942 on approximately 10,161 acres in Desha County southeastern Arkansas. The site is located about 110 miles southeast of Little Rock and about 27 miles north of the Jerome Relocation Center. Approximately 500 acres served as the central area of the relocation center and was home to most of the structures. The Relocation Center was in operation from September 18, 1942 until November 30, 1944. The maximum population was 8,475. Evacuees were from California. There were more than 620 buildings at the relocation center including buildings for evacuees, military police, staff, fire station, health care, and mess halls.
After the relocation center was closed, 120 acres were deeded to the local school district and the remaining land was sold back to the original farmers or to veterans. Equipment and buildings were sold to bidders from across the country.
Current Status/Interpretation: Currently, the original Relocation Center is privately held farm land. Few features remain at the Rohwer site. The most prominent is the Relocation Center cemetery, located in the outlying area. The cemetery includes 24 headstones, two large concrete monuments, a bench, a flagpole, sidewalks, and tow entrance markers, all built by the evacuees. One monument, shaped like a military tank, commemorates the Japanese Americans in the 100th Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team who were killed in Italy and France. The second monument is to those who died in the relocation center.
In addition to the monuments in the cemetery, there are two recent monuments. One honors the 31 Japanese American soldiers from Rohwer who were killed during World War II and the other commemorates the Relocation Center and indicates that the cemetery is a National Historic Landmark.
Other remaining prominent features include a concrete water reservoir and a hospital boiler room smokestack.
The Rohwer Relocation Center is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Regional Context: The Mississippi Delta region of Arkansas where the Relocation Center was located is primarily agricultural and extremely rural. Today, the three county area where the two Arkansas relocation centers were located have a combined population of approximately 50,000. The region across the Mississippi River in Mississippi is similarly rural. The nearest Federal presence is the Arkansas Post National Memorial, approximately 30 miles north of Rohwer, and the White River National Wildlife Refuge, approximately 30 miles northeast of Rohwer.
Interested Parties/Stakeholders and Opinions:
Local efforts to preserve both the Jerome and Rohwer Relocation Center sites in Arkansas have been lead by Rosalie Gould, a former mayor of the nearby town of McGehee. Ms. Gould has an extensive collection of artifacts from the sites and allows previous internees and scholars access to the collection which she stores in her home.
Arkansas State Historic Preservation Officer
The DOI will work with the State Historic Preservation Officer and private landowners to determine suitability for listing the site on National Register, and work with Federal, state, and local organizations to develop off-site interpretation.