This National Historic Site Is the Newest Addition to the U.S. National Park System

The hope is that preserving this Japanese American internment camp in Colorado will inform future generations about a shameful part of America’s history.

This National Historic Site Is the Newest Addition to the U.S. National Park System

Amache National Historic Site was one of 10 Japanese American internment camps in the United States during World War II.

Courtesy of National Park Service

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.

The National Park Service also manages other former internment camps, including Hono‘uli‘uli in Hawai‘i, Minidoka in Idaho, as well as Manzanar and Tule Lake National Monument in California.

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.

>>Next: 7 National Parks and Monuments in Colorado You Should Visit

Bailey Berg is the associate travel news editor at AFAR, where she covers breaking news, trends, tips, sustainability, the outdoors, and more. When not interviewing sources or writing articles, she can be found exploring art galleries, visiting craft breweries, hiking with her dogs, and planning her next adventure (at present, she’s been to 75+ countries and hopes to spend time in every one someday).
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