National Historic Site
1992: National Historic Site
About the SiteAt the beginning of the U.S. involvement in World War II and immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, fears of a Japanese invasion of the U.S. mainland led to the forcible relocation of Japanese Nationals and U.S. citizens of Japanese descent. People lost their homes and their jobs and were treated as second-citizens. Internees were generally kept here for the duration of World War II. Ten camps were established in the western states, and Manzanar is one of the best-preserved of these. The Site explores this dark time in American history.
What You're Going to SeeThe camp is located at the base of the impressive Sierra Nevada mountains in east-central California, in Owens Valley. Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the continental 48 states, is visible to the south. Not much remains of the 800 or so buildings that housed the 11,000 people in Manzanar; however, concrete footings remain, and certain buildings have been or are being restored, including the auditorium, a watch tower, and a mess hall. Manzanar National Historic Site was established only in 1992, and an interpretive center was just opened in 2004 in the restored Manzanar High School auditorium.
Personal ObservationsThere are three high points of this Site: the cemetery, the very impressive visitor center, and the contrast offered by desolate Owens Valley and the sternly beautiful Sierra Nevadas.
Getting ThereFrom Bakersfield, go east on highway 58 about 40 miles to Mohave and the intersection with highway 14. Take that north 114 miles to Lone Pine. Manzanar is about ten miles further north, on the west.
Nearby AttractionsDeath Valley National Park is 30 miles to the east. As mentioned, Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park are directly to the west. Yosemite National Park and Devils Postpile National Monument are 80 or so miles to the north.