It is fitting that this guard tower is the first thing you see when driving up to the site of the former Minidoka WRA Camp. It is located right off the road, near the location of the main gate. It is a replica. Now imagine eight or nine of them surrounding the residential and administrative part of the prison camp.
Nearby is a remnant of the Military Police (MP) station at the main gate.
Walking some twenty feet south from the MP station, you come upon the North Side Canal. Built for irrigation of new agricultural lands, the canal formed the southern boundary of Minidoka. As a consequence, rather than the customary rectangle or square, the residential part of the camp was in a kidney bean shape, situated along the arch of the canal.
Minidoka was located out in the middle of sage brush, about 15 miles north of Twin Falls, Idaho.
There is a 1 1/2 mile path that goes through the National Park Service site. On the NPS brochure and website, it looks like there is not much there. However, along the path you encounter many more buildings than you might expect from the time of the camp. For everything you see, there are frequent interpretative placards. This Minidoka NPS site is a nice surprise.
On the path, you come upon a blue gold mine. Well, actually it is the National Park Service’s Visitor Center. Though small, it is fully staffed with an NPS Ranger, Chief of Interpretation Hanako Wakatsuki, other staff, and volunteers. It also has a well stocked book store. Either Hanako or her staff will take you on a tour of the site, filling you with more information than you might have thought possible. Midway along the walking path, the blue building marks the “official” beginning of a visit to Minidoka.
Thanks for coming with me on the journey. There’s much more to see of Minidoka.
Grace and peace,
Did you notice that farms in the area purchased many of the discarded buildings for shops and out buildings after the war. When I visited it was self guided. Glad to see a staffed visitor center
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Hi Jill, thanks for your comment… They’re doing a great job of developing the site! The current Visitors Center is temporary, occupying what was the home of a farm family that homesteaded that part of the property. They are currently building a permanent visitor center nearby.
BTW, there are old barracks buildings all around the area. After the war, most of the land and buildings from the various WRA camps were dispersed in the last applications of the Homestead Act. Via lottery, mostly returning war veterans were able to obtain farmland (usually 90 or 120 acres) along with two barracks buildings (for a home and/or out buildings). More about that later…