Manzanar National Historic Site:

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Manzanar Reward Rd, Manzanar, CA, USA

Manzanar National Historic Site: Reviews

cotton_foam cotton_f…
262 reviews
stories like this should not happen again! Aug 05, 2014
My “adopted” home-state is rich with history.

The Manzanar National Historic Site is my recommendation for those avid fans of mid-century history.

Manzanar, which means “apple orchard” in Spanish, was setup at the beginning of World War II (1941). It was an internment camp where thousands of Japanese-Americans, when all of a sudden…one morning were sent away to live a life of uncertainty during the war. For a more detailed story, please follow this link:( --

There were other internment camps spread throughout the western United States, and Manzanar was the camp in California, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada in the Owens Valley along CA Highway 395.

While the war was on going, Manzanar billeted over 10,000 men, women and children in barracks-style housing. Families lived in a single 20 x 25 footage with thin walls and ceilings detached from the roof. The bathrooms were communal and like their housing, lacked privacy as well. All internees ate at the "mess hall." The children in Manzanar had schools. There is a church, post office and farm but the whole area was surrounded by barbwires.

Our visit was during late spring when Manzanar gorgeous backdrop is the snowcapped Sierra Nevada mountains. And I suspect if this is the only time of the year the internees would have pleasant days. The Owens Valley has extreme weather; bitter cold days in the winter and oven-like heat in the summer. Sometimes, when its windy the desert sand will hover around the camp.

The only time the Japanese-American were freed to live outside of all the internment camps was when the war was over and with Japan surrendering in August 1945. A few months after that, Manzanar was closed for good. In 1972, Manzanar was designated as a California Landmark and in 1985 was recognized as a National Historic Landmark.

Except for The Manzanar Interpretive Center, a few slabs of concrete building foundations, some rock gardens, and the camp cemetery, the site is now an empty land.

We visited The Manzanar Interpretive Center, which is a very impressive art center with many exhibits that surely will give you a feel for what life was like in the internment camp. Every wall and dividers in that center are dangling with photographs and artifacts. There is also a large scale model of the camp in the middle of the room.

After we had explored the center, we did the 3-mile self-auto tour which gave a glimpse of what was in that place more than 50 years ago.

What happened to thousands of Japanese-Americans is a history that should not repeat... or to history of the Jews in Poland's concentrations camps for that matter.

Manzanar National Historic Site is open every day from dawn to dusk, but the interpretive center opens at 9:00 AM.

It is a free site.
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
cotton_foam says:
Nancy, Bill : I was a bit emotional actually, when I was reading all the captions of each photo on those 4 walls of the interpretive center...

Thank you, for you comments! ~ May
Posted on: Aug 13, 2014
Zagnut66 says:
Not a proud moment in American history. But I'm glad the park service has preserved the site as a means of preventing it from happening again. Good review, May.
Posted on: Aug 13, 2014
Nana_gincin says:
It is sad but is a way of not forgetting what fear or political interests can do, create prisons to "hold" people inside of them just for who they are. Men, women and children who became political prisoners. Deep review May, thank you!
Posted on: Aug 13, 2014
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Manzanar Map
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1 review
photo by: alonski