Spanning less than one square mile in southern Colorado, Amache National Historic Site contains the crumbling remains of barracks, latrines, mess halls, guard towers, and a cemetery. This spring, it became a national park site—the first such designation of the Biden administration—in an effort to preserve and share its ignoble history with future generations.
On February 19, 1942, during World War II, then-President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order in response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor to move all persons deemed a threat to national security to “relocation centers.” It resulted in more than 110,000 Japanese Americans being forcibly held in 10 internment camps, largely in the American west and southwest. One of those was Amache, then called Granada Relocation Center, which unjustly detained more than 10,000 Japanese Americans for almost three years.
“Our national park sites include wide open wild spaces, as well as places that represent some of our country’s most important history,” Theresa Pierno, president and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association, stated in a release. “Not all stories they tell are easy to hear, like those of Amache, but perhaps those are the stories we as a nation need to hear most. By preserving Amache, we can ensure that as a country, we confront our mistakes, honor the stories of those who were unjustly imprisoned, and protect the site for future generations.”
Amache had previously been designated a National Historic Landmark, which identified it as a historically significant site, and it was owned by the town of Granada. However, it wasn’t until it became part of the National Park System that Amache was eligible for federal assistance for its preservation efforts. As a national historic site, it will be managed by the National Park Service, which will staff and maintain the protected area.
In addition to Amache, there are 73 national historic sites within the National Park System. They include the Boston African American Historic Site, the First Ladies National Historic Site in Ohio, and the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site in North Dakota.
Amache is located about 3.5 hours southeast of Denver and is open to visitors during daylight hours. No fee or ticket is necessary to enter and visit the site.