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Friday, July 13, 2012

Inyo County Series, Part 2: @ Manzanar National Historic Site

Cemetery @ Manzanar National Historic Site

Manzanar National Historic Site preserves the painful mistake of the past, which was the internment of nearly 120,000 Japanese Amaricans during World War II. This site was established to remind us and our future generations of how fragile are our civil liberties.

Open Field @ Manzanar National Historic Site Looking Towards Alabama Hills, Lone Pine

Manzanar National Historic Site is located between the towns of Lone Pine and Independence, right at Hwy 395, and at the foot of Sierra Nevada. In part 1 of Inyo County series, I shared the natural wonders in Alabama Hills. You can see the silhouette of Alabama Hills and the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the 2nd picture above. This historic site is about 13 miles northeast of Lone Pine, or 6 miles southwest of Independence.

Military Outpost
There are hardly any original structures left in the park, except for a few, such as the cemetery (1st picture above) and military outpost (3rd picture above). The vast emptiness in the park however, for me, emphasized greatly the pain, the horror, and the hardships of the Japanese internees who lived here behind barbed wire fences.

I am glad for the preservation of this site, despite a walk here brings so much sadness. I found my heart congested during our walk here because I felt the mistakes of the past was painful and heart ripping. I am glad for this National Historic Site which for me is a symbol of our government acknowledging the mistakes of the past.
Below is a picture of a replica of the barracks that housed the Japanese internees before.

And here is a picture I took from wikipedia commons of how the barracks looked like before.

picture source: Wikipedia Commons

picture source: Wikipedia Commons

The barracks were made of very thin materials, and the roofing was not sturdy. You can see in the picture the snow capped Sierra Nevada mountains. The internees here survived both the extreme heat and cold in the desert with no air and heat, sheltered only by these thin walls and roof that had holes. In the film which was shown in the visitor center, one of the surviving internees said:

" When we got here, the first thing we were asked to do was to fill the sack with straw. We were told later the sack would be our bed. Night came, and there were holes up the roof. I saw stars! So Beautiful! The next morning, we woke up with sand all over us! The desert, we lived in the brutal hotness of the summer, and bone chilling cold in the winter, but nothing can be more devastating than THE SAND AND THE WIND!"- as recalled from the film which you can watch at the visitor center

The Road to Emptiness, Manzanar National Historic Site
Even though the Historic Site is almost empty now, but the National Park Service has done an excellent job in reliving the past, and humbly explaining this sad story. If you happen to be in the Eastern Sierra, in Inyo County, if you are not pressed for time, I invite you to take some time to stop here.

Remnants of Japanese Garden

There may be nothing much, but it is the silence, the vast emptiness, the sand and the wind, that will bring you back in time to feel the haunting sacrifices of the people who once lived here.

For part 1, Alabama Hills and Lone Pine in Inyo County, please click here.


  1. You always make one place looks so beautiful.

  2. I can feel the sadness here Betchai...praying nothing like the bad memories there happen again...love that barbed wire shot and the road to emptiness...you always bring home photos that say a thousand words..thank you for taking us to places truly worth walking through...

  3. Thank you for sharing a piece of histor; felt sad about what they had to go through.

    Love the photos, awesome !


  4. Beautiful view and scenery. Great captures.

  5. Too bad there's a sad story behind this beautiful looking place. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Such a beautiful spot to remind us of such a sad period in our history. So easy for this sort of thing to happen, even today. This is a lovely area though and your photos have beautifully captured this.

  7. Betchai, this is exactly how I feel, describing in your own words:

    "There may be nothing much, but it is the silence, the vast emptiness, the sand and the wind, that will bring you back in time to feel the haunting sacrifices of the people who once lived here."





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