Unearthing Amache: A brief history lesson

Jul 8, 2014

The Granada War Relocation Center, also known as Camp Amache, was a Japanese American internment camp located just south of US Highway 50 about a mile west of the small, farming community of Granada, Colorado.  It is an agricultural area with a semi-arid climate.  The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad track lies just south of the camp.  

The Center was one of ten created by the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941.

The relocation project opened in August of 1942, and had a maximum population of 7,318 people.  Most all of the residents were from the Los Angeles area.  They were forced to sell or give away their possession before being forced to the internment camps.  Each person was allowed to bring only one bag.

The camp was built on a low hill to prevent flooding issues, which was a problem at other camps.  It’s main industry was agriculture.  It was surrounded by barbed-wire fencing, and eight machine-gun towers located around the perimeter.  The towers were rarely manned all at once.  The guns were never used.  The camp had a police department, manned by Japanese Americans living at the camp.

Colorado Governor Ralph Lawrence Carr welcomed the Japanese to Colorado, which was rare and went against the anti-Japanese sentiment of the times.

The facility became known as Camp Amache because of a mail mix-up between the town of Granada and the camp.  It was named after a Cheyenne Indian chief’s daughter, who was the wife of John Prowers.  The camp is located in Prowers County, named for Mr. Prowers.

The camp was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 18, 1994.  It was designated a National Historic Landmark on February 10, 2006.

More information, as well as personal accounts are available from the Densho Encyclopedia, and also from  Amache.org.