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Facts

  • Opened on September 11, 1942
  • Closed on October 31, 1945
  • Original name: Central Utah Relocation Center. The name was changed to "Topaz" to accommodate the U.S. Post Office because the original name was too long to fit on required forms. Post office names cannot be duplicates, so the camp was never named after Delta.
  • Location: 16 miles NW of Delta, Utah, which is 125 miles southwest of Salt Lake City
  • Climate: Arid desert from over 100 degrees in the summer to below zero in the winter
  • Cost to build: $3,929,000
  • Internees: 11,212 were processed into the camp. Peak population was between 8100 and 8300. Most of the people came from the San Francisco Bay area.
  • Size: 19,900 acrec (31 square miles), including farm land
  • Living area: 640 acres (one square mile) surrounded by 4 ft. high barbed wire and guard towers every half mile. 42 blocks with 36 used for housing.
  • Block: 12 barracks per block, housing around 250 internees, plus a mess hall, latrine and laundry, and recreation hall. Each rec. hall was used for a different purpose including a co-op, churches, libraries, and other community functions.
  • Living spaces: Each 120’ x 20’ barrack was divided into six apartments, 20’ x 14’, 20’ x 20’, 20’ x 26’ depending on the size of the family.
  • Assembly center: Prior to being taken to Topaz, people were incarcerated in the Tanforan Race Track in San Bruno, CA. Many internees were forced to live in horse stalls while waiting for Topaz to be completed.
  • Once at Topaz internees were hired to work at the camp. Pay ranged from $12 a month to $19 for medical doctors.
  • People could leave Topaz and go farther east, if they had a job or were admitted to school.
  • After the War Relocation Agency required all people 17 or older to answer two loyalty questions, men were drafted and volunteered for military service from Topaz.
  • The soldiers were part of the 442nd RCT and the Military Intelligence Service, but their families were still interned.

from "The Price of Prejudice," by Leonard Arrington