The First Sign

Road Sign

Driving through the Owens Valley, past Bishop and another hour down to Manzanar, I can’t help wondering what was going through the minds of the coastal urban dwellers who were brought out into the middle of this vast, stark area.

The War Relocation Authority, created in response to Executive order 9066, established ten so-called War Relocation Authority Relocation Centers, from California to Arkansas. In early 1942, the United States government began to forcibly move Americans of Japanese ancestry out of their communities and into these ten camps.

Manzanar was one of the best known of the WRA Camps, located in the Owens Valley, on Highway 395, fifty miles south of Bishop and 220 miles from Los Angeles, California. It is a region of both profound natural beauty and remoteness.

The second time I visited on this journey, just this week, the wind was blowing so hard that I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to change camera lenses out in the open. A minor inconvenience… in perspective, a trivial concern.

“By the time we reached our destination… it was late afternoon. The first thing I saw was a yellow swirl across a blurred, reddish setting sun. The bus was being pelted by what sounded like splattering rain. It wasn’t rain. This was my first look at something I would soon know very well, a billowing flurry of dust and sand churned up by the wind through Owens Valley.”

                                                       Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, Child at Manzanar

                                                               “Farewell To Manzanar”

As I continue this part of my journey, walking through Manzanar, come along with me.  I hope my photos and reflections, and especially the commentary of people who lived there, will bring Manzanar to life for you.

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Grace and peace,


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