Oct. 5 marks the 76th anniversary of the first day of school for students at the Heart Mountain War Relocation Center.

Oct. 5 marks the 76th anniversary of the first day of school for students at the Heart Mountain War Relocation Center.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt authorized the creation of Japanese American internment camps in March 1942, construction of the Heart Mountain facility near Cody began that summer and the first trainload of internees arrived from California in August, according to the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center’s website. By the end of the World War II, 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry — men, women and children of all ages, the majority of them United States citizens — were forcibly removed from their homes and confined in internment camps throughout the country.  

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When school began in Oct. 1942 class was held in a barracks and supplies, including textbooks, were limited. By May 1943, however, a proper school had been constructed. According to the center’s website: “It had regular classrooms, an auditorium/gymnasium, a library, a large home economics room, a machine shop and a wood shop. Athletic teams began competing with other local high schools, and the football team, the Heart Mountain Eagles, suffered only one defeat in two years.”

Matthew Copeland is the chief executive & editor of WyoFile. Contact him at matthew@wyofile.com or (307) 287-2839. Follow Matt on Twitter at @WyoCope

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  1. Great shot and good post, many thanks. My folks were there, along with other family, including Pfc. Ted Fujioka, Heart Mountain High’s SBP, volunteered upon graduation in 1944. He joined up with the 442nd and was subsequently killed in action in eastern France after the Rescue of the Lost Battalion. He remains buried there in the Epinal American Cemetery.

    The white children in the photo are likely kids of the camp staff. I’ve met one at a HM reunion down in So Cal. They look so darn American, perhaps because that is precisely what they were. Thanks again.