Visit to Gila River Internment Camp (remnants & memorial) on January 24

Visit to Gila River Internment Camp on January 24

Gila River Internment Camp during WWII, courtesy of Dr. Karen Leong

Gila River Internment Camp during WWII, courtesy of Dr. Karen Leong

All day tour of remnants of Gila River Internment Camp (Gila River, AZ – south of Phoenix) & memorial.

Reservations REQUIRED. Contact DirectorRoss Iwamoto at for information. This was one of the large Japanese American internment camps caused by E.O. 9066 during WWII. Over 13,000 Japanese Americans, 2/3 of whom were U.S. Citizens were interned here from 1942 to 1945.

Tour date: Saturday, January 24, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. $10 for lunch or option to bring our own. We will be car pooling to this tour site from Tucson and Phoenix.


19 thoughts on “Visit to Gila River Internment Camp (remnants & memorial) on January 24

  1. 17 of us from Southern AZ Japanese Cultural Coalition & friends participated in this tour today of the remnants (concrete slabs, some stone steps, building mounts, abandoned koi ponds) of the Gila River Internment Camp, plus a white stone memorial built by the Gila River Indian Tribe on the hill overlooking the camp in 1995. One person on the tour had a mother and sister at Gila River camp, plus others had family members interned at Heart Mt., Wyoming, Jerome and Rohwer, Arkansas. Others like my father had been forced to flee Los Angeles before the camps came to be. We honored those today who had been innocently interned during WWII, lest we forget them.

  2. Who do you contact to schedule a field trip. 6th grade class learning about Japanese internment and would like them to see the real camps.

  3. Soon after the war, the government sold and/or relocated many of the buildings from the Gila River internment camp. I went to an elementary school in Casa Grande that had bought many of those buildings, and some years later, my parents bought one of them, and had it relocated on their land out in the desert. I grew up in what was once a Gila River internment barracks.
    I have many fond childhood memories of that home….but I am also aware that there are many former inhabitants who do not share my fondness of that building.
    It remains in my family to this day (my sister lives there now). Except for the porches added to it, the old building pretty much looks the same as it did when it was at Gila River.

    • Thanks for commenting Bob — yes, the former Gila River internees do not have fond memories of their stay there in that camp. Several live here in Tucson, but I appreciate you writing to us about your unique memories. Sorry for the late response, I didn’t see your message till recently.

  4. Hello,

    I’m with the Fresno Bee. We’re doing a special story on the 75th anniversary of the Japanese Internment. Is it possible to use the above photo- sepia toned of the Gila center- to be included in a video? A 93-year-old gentleman who is part of out story was held there, before becoming part of the 442nd combat regiment. Thank you,

  5. My parents, maternal grandparents, and my mother’s siblings and their families were interned at Gila. I wish I would have known that you were conducting the tour. We do not live in AZ. Are there plans for any other tours?

    • No, we do not have any plans for a return visit, but visit the JACL Aizona website (Glendale, AZ) as they have yearly clean ups of the memorial on the butte next to the campsite.

  6. I have photos of the Gila River camp including a group photo of about 100 of the residents just before the camp closed. Anyone interested in them?

    • Ray, sorry for the late reply. I don’t get these emails directly to my address. Send email to Donna Cheung at JACL re: these photos. Her email is JACL is the Japanese American Citizens League, Arizona chapter in Glendale, AZ.

    • Hi Mr Yutani;

      My father Matsushige Ando and his family were interned was at Gila Bend.

      I’m not certain which barrack he was in.

      My father never spoke much of the internment other than he was the mayor of his barrack or camp. I would be so grateful if you would be so kind and shared the photos in the hopes that perhaps my grandfather; step mother, aunts and uncles would be in the photos.

      Thank you in advance.

  7. The Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, CA collects such information and often asks for anyone having such historical documents as you mention to send them to the Museum.

    100 North Central Avenue
    Los Angeles, CA . 90012
    Phone: 213) 625-0414

  8. This may be a long shot but I was wondering if there was any way to visit the camp? My uncle was sent there during the war and I would love to see what he saw when he lived there.

    • Erik,
      Please note under Upcoming Events on our website that there will be clean up of the memorial and remembrance at the Gila River Internment Camp on Nov. 3rd. Contact JACL Pres. Donna Cheung ifyou are interested in helping. Her email is on the event flyer.

      Thanks, Carolyn Classen

  9. I wish I had been notified. Though I may not be able to attend because my daughter is very interested since I’m the only family member left with actual experience. Would appreciate anything. Thanks

  10. Aloha to all, I lived in Sierra Vista, AZ from 2010-2017 sorry I missed the clean-up. Though not many from Hawaii was interned I would have been interested in seeing the camp. As a historic site, we should not forget what happened and is more relevant today with all the hate crimes. I believe the Government tried to hide this site as much as possible back in the 40s and 50s. Does anyone know how to get it designated as a historic site, if not already designated?

    • Brett, that site is owned by the Gila River Tribe, so I guess you would have to contact them. Probably not designated as a historic site as yet. Aloha, Carolyn

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