Rohwer Japanese American Relocation Center

Location: Rohwer, Arkansas

Webpage: Museum

General Description: “The Rohwer Japanese American Relocation Center was located in swampy southeast Arkansas with 500 acres set aside for internee living quarters surrounded by 10,000 acres for farming and timber harvesting. The camp was separated into several distinct areas according to purpose: schools, open areas, the hospital, administration, and thirty-six internee barrack blocks. Each of these barrack blocks included twelve housing barracks furnished with only canvas cots and pot-bellied stoves, which were “home” for three to six families. These families were required to share a community lavatory and laundry building, a kitchen and dining hall building, and a recreation building. These living quarters were surrounded by eight watch towers, staffed with military police, and connected by barbed wire fences.”  All of the buildings were meant to be temporary and the site of the camp has no returned to agricultural fields. The only features to survive are the small cemetery and hospital waste disposal chimney.  Restoration efforts have protected these two features and install a short walking tour with interpretive signs for visitors.

Impressions:

1) We were not surprised to see nothing left of the camp itself as it was meant to be temporary and the wood was likely to be in high demand after the war.  However, the cemetery is still there with some very nice and unique monuments to the Japanese Americans that lived there from 1-3 years.

Cemetery

2) The series of interpretive signs are also very informative giving a sense of life in the camp, especially with the audio players at each sign.  The only feature left is the smokestack in the distance which does help get a feeling for the size of the camp.