Marker No. 1:
During the first months of World II, the United States Government ordered over 110,000 men, women, and children of Japanese descent to leave their homes, and incarcerated them in remote, military-style camps. The government order came in response to a rising tide of racial prejudice against Japanese Americans and growing national security fears, which prevailed over the protection of individual civil liberties. Yet two-thirds of these individuals were American citizens and not one was ever convicted of espionage or sabotage.
From August 1942 to October 1945, more than 10,000 people lived behind barbed wire and under armed guard here at the Granada Relocation Center, also known as Amache.
"I have brooded about this whole episode on and off the past three decades for it is illustrative of how an entire society can somehow plunge off course."
S. Eisenhower, first Director of the War Relocation Authority, younger brother of U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1974
Marker No. 2:
Behind the Fence: Daily Life
Standing behind the four-strand barbed wire fence here on a morning in the early 1940s, you would have seen the evacuees hurrying from their sleeping quarters, trying to be among the first in line for the mess halls, latrines, and showers. With more than 7,300 residents, the Amache camp was the tenth largest community in Colorado.
Internees from a variety of professional, vocational and educational backgrounds now worked at a limited range of jobs, including farming and staffing the camp hospital. All received a fraction of their former income. Some 2,000 children and teens attended camp schools.
At the end of the day, a family of six would gather in a 20'x24' portion of a barracks building. These quarters had no running water, no toilet, poor insulation, and a single light bulb. Furnishings consisted of canvas cots, thin cotton mattresses, and a coal burning stove for heat.
Evacuees remember the lack of privacy as one of the most oppressive aspects of camp life. The regimented, communal life of the camp diminished the older generation's traditional leadership role and disrupted the family unit, impacting Japanese American communities and families for years after the camp closed.
After the internment camp closed near the end of World War II, hundreds of Amache buildings were removed or demolished. The site lay abandoned and largely ignored for decades. But the former internees did not forget - and in 1976, after decades of silence, they found their voice: they began an annual pilgrimage to Amache as a way to preserve the memory of their internment.
Many people and organizations have been involved in preserving the site. The Amache Historical Society and the Denver Central Optimist Club (reorganized today as the Amache Club) have played key roles in preserving the site since the 1970s.
A younger generation of local residents is now making sure that this chapter of American history is not forgotten. Granada High School students formed the Amache Preservation Society in 1990 and now work in partnership with the internees and their descendants, the Town of Granada (current owners of the site) and nonprofit organizations to maintain and protect the site and to increase public awareness about what happened here. Students have re-landscaped the camp cemetery, installed signs, collected historical documents and artifacts, recorded oral histories, and are largely responsible for maintaining the historic site and cemetery.
At first glance, one may think that nothing remains of the Granada Relocation Center. But even though over 560 buildings were removed or demolished after the center closed in 1945, much can be seen of the facility.
Can you see the road network and the concrete building foundations? They provide an unusually clear image of the size and layout of the compound, giving a strong sense of the strict military regimentation of the site.
Beyond this developed area, over 9,500 acres of the relocation camp were used for a variety of agricultural undertakings. That land, located south of the Arkansas River, extended two to four miles west, north and east.
Please respect the private property that surrounds Amache today.