Report to the President:
Japanese-American Internment Sites Preservation
Background: The Tule Lake Relocation Center (Center) at Newell is in Modoc County, California, 35 miles southeast of Klamath Falls, Oregon, and about 10 miles from the town of Tulelake. It is situated in the Klamath Basin.
The Center, which encompassed 7,400 acres, of which 1,100 acres were Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) withdrawn land. These lands were transferred to the War Relocation Authority (WRA) for internment purposes pursuant to Executive Order No. 9066. Construction of the Center began April 15, 1942, and the first evacuees arrived on May 25, 1942. The maximum population of the Center reached 18,789 on December 25, 1944. The Center was in operation until March 20, 1946.
After World War II, WRA lands were returned to Reclamation along with many of the associated buildings and structures. The bulk of the lands were transferred pursuant to the Recreation and Public Purposes Act and the Airport Act. Left over parcels were later sold under the Small Tracts Act to private individuals. Most of the buildings were parceled-out to returning veterans under homesteading legislation with many of the residential barracks being sold to local homesteaders and removed from the site, other structures were demolished and materials salvaged. One parcel was provided to the State of California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) for a highway maintenance yard. Reclamation retained approximately 23 acres and a few buildings for administration of the irrigation project on nearby lands.
The remaining building on the 23-acre site originally constructed by the WRA is of frame construction with wood siding. It was utilized as a carpentry and painting shop by the Post Engineering Group. Very little maintenance has been performed on this building by the Tulelake Irrigation District (District).
Most preservation activities have focused on the adjacent property owned by the California Department of Transportation and the jail located on that property. However, local individuals, Tule Lake Pilgrimage Committee, Japanese American Citizens League, Sacramento, and the staff of the State Historic Preservation Officer are interested in preservation and interpretation of the Center's remains.
Current Status: The Center was registered as a State Historic Landmark (No. 850-2) on August 20, 1975.
Of the 23 acres under Reclamation's jurisdiction, the land and buildings are currently used by the District pursuant to an operation and management and repayment contract executed in 1957. The District utilizes a small two bedroom house (not WRA constructed) for an employee and stores equipment on the land. The WRA constructed building remaining is also used by the district for a small amount of storage.
The portrayal of Reclamation land in Figure 13.1, page 280 of DOI's report "Confinement and Ethnicity: an Overview of World War II Japanese American Relocation Sites," is inaccurate. Several parcels of land designated as being managed by Reclamation are no longer in federal ownership. A Reclamation-managed 23-acre parcel is located adjacent to State Highway 139. The District uses a portion of this parcel for operation and storage. Maintaining these commitments is considered important for continuity of Klamath Project purposes.
Interpretation: A large monument of basalt rock and concrete along the north side of State Highway 139 commemorates the relocation center. The monument, dedicated in 1979, incorporates multiple levels of rock walls, a concrete apron, and a state historical marker.
In the CalTrans maintenance yard near the Reclamation-managed 23-acre parcel at Newell is the Harvey Yoshizuka Sand House. Built in the 1980s, it was named for a young evacuee at the Center who is now an engineer working for CalTrans. Five WRA structures, including the jail, remain on this parcel of State land.
The Reclamation office in Klamath Falls has historical photographs, a large set of blueprints, and other files from the Center. They also have a couple of office chairs that were made at the Tule Lake evacuee-operated furniture factory.
There is a small exhibit about the Center at the county fairgrounds museum, and Lava Beds National Monument maintains a small collection of ceramics and other artifacts from the Center.
A Tulelake high school teacher (Jim King) has received a grant (source unknown) to gather materials for instruction on the Center.
A grant from the California State Library has been provided to Judy Tachibana to develop a guidebook to interpret the remains of the camp.
The State of California is considering the addition of a wayside rest area at Tule Lake.
The Tule Lake Historic Preservation Committee has been active in preservation efforts for the site and has developed a proposal to create a living memorial at Tule Lake.
Management Authorities, and Practices: Section 110 of the National Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 470 et seq.) provides Reclamation the authority to manage and maintain the Center. The lands are withdrawn land of the Klamath Project which Reclamation has interpreted to permit the use of cultural resource nonreimbursable operation and maintenance funding for limited maintenance for stabilization purposes of the historic structures of the Center.
While Reclamation has the legal authority to continue managing the site, the agency does not presently possess the funding or staffing to restore the site and develop appropriate interpretation. In addition, these activities are outside of Reclamation's central mission and would be more appropriately conducted by another Federal agency, such as the National Park Service (NPS), which has historic preservation and interpretation as part of its central mission.
Regional Context: Nearby recreational areas include public land under the administration of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), with its field office in Alturas, California. The Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge is immediately to the west of the Center's boundary. The Modoc and Klamath National Forests, under the administration of the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, are located within an hour's drive to the east and west, respectively. Additionally, the NPS administers the Lava Beds National Monument, which includes Petroglyph Point approximately five miles southeast of Newell. Public access is available via State Highway 139 which bisects the Center.
Interested Parties/Stakeholders and Opinions:
Tule Lake Irrigation District - It considers the use of the storage yard important for the operations.
Tule Lake Pilgrimage Committee
Bureau of Land Management, Alturas Field Office
Reclamation will work with CalTrans in the development of a National Register nomination. In addition, we will work with CalTrans to secure Federal funding (TEA-21 grant) or state funding to develop an interpretive wayside/kiosk stop.
The NPS will proceed with the Special Resource Study for Tule Lake as described in the main body of this report. The special resource study process would most likely focus on potential partnerships between the NPS and other interested parties including Federal, State, and local entities. These studies are expected to start early in early 2001, and be completed within two years.