On Nov. 21, 1945, the Manzanar War Relocation Center was closed. Over the next year, the camp was dismantled.
These four photos by staff photographer Phil Bath accompanied writer Frank Finch’s report on Manzanar in the Dec. 2, 1946, Los Angeles Times:
The once-teeming relocation center reclaimed from a square mile of sagebrush at the foot of 14,384-foot Mt. Williamson literally has been hauled away, piecemeal, in trucks.
Thirty-six blocks of wooden buildings, erected in 1942 at a cost of $3,800,000, have been salvaged by the War Assets Administration, and for once the G.I. veteran got a break.
Needing only his discharge as a “priority,” a house-hunting veteran could buy a 20×100-foot barracks for $333.13, including tax. For his money he got 8000 square feet of seasoned pine and redwood lumber, 1000 square feet of wallboard, 22 slide windows, four interior doors, 200 feet of wiring and six electrical outlets. …
Erwood P. Eiden, Glendale architect and former major in the Army combat engineers, drew up four floor plans, any one of which can be built from the materials salvaged from a barracks.
“One of the finest ways government money can be spent is giving these veterans a home at a bargain.” said Ralph P. Merritt, W.A.A. field director who designed Manzanar and directed it in wartime. “And please say that Manzanar is not being demolished – it’s merely being redistributed.”
Merritt, a long-time resident of Owens Valley, has seen to it that 750,000 board feet of lumber and 600,000 square feet of salvaged wallboard have been redistributed in this neck of the woods. Fifty-two barracks were bought by Bishop veterans. Lone Pine accounted for 32, Independence 28, Inyokern 27, Ridgecrest 20 and Bridgeport 12. Only 12 Los Angeles veterans got in on the ground floor in the sale that opened Nov. 15 and closed last Wednesday.
A typical purchaser was Joseph Guzman, an ex-Army infantryman who supports his wife and two children by working in a talc mill. They’re renting at Keeler right now, but will move into their three-bedroom house at Lone Pine as soon as Guzman find time to built it with his $333.13 worth of materials.
“We’ve needed more room for a long time, but we felt that we couldn’t afford to build until we heard of this deal,” said Mrs. Guzman. …
What the veterans didn’t get other Federal agencies did.
Birmingham Veteran’s Hospital, near Van Nuys, received huge quantities of such scarce items as plumbing, medical supplies and lumber.
Plumbing supplies and lumber were sent to the Veterans Administration Hospital at Sawtelle. …
Inyo County purchased the center’s 1280-capacity auditorium for $6500 and will turn it over to the veterans to use as a social center. Thirty families now are living in staff quarters at Manzanar and 35 more families will move in soon.
A few landmarks remain. The “Garden of Happiness,” with its picturesque tea house and pools, is overrun with weeds. The once verdant nursery is being returned to the desert. Only the chicken wire backstop and wooden press box mark the site of “Yankee Stadium.” A plain white stone monument keeps lonely vigil over the cemetery.
The Manzanar National Historic Site is now operated by the National Park Service.
This gallery accompanies these previous From the Archive posts:
Alien Registration Act of 1940 [updated]
1941 camera and radio confiscation
Executive Order 9066: Japanese American internment in World War II
Japanese evicted from Terminal Island
Japanese Internment: Santa Anita Assembly Center
Japanese American internment: Pomona Assembly Center
Japanese Internment: Manzanar
Japanese Internment: Poston
Japanese American internment: Returning to Los Angeles
This series of posts on the internment of Japanese Americans began in 2012.
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