When WWII ended and the 10 WRA Camps closed, the federal government awarded part of the land for farming to returning WWII Veterans (in 90 to 120 acre plots, along with two barracks buildings). At Minidoka, the government allotted 89 farming units for a total of something near 9,000 acres. They did so via a lottery. The WRA-related action was the last use of the Homestead Act. Japanese Americans from the Camps were not allowed to apply (whether they had farmed land as Camp prisoners or were returning WWII veterans).
In 1950, WWII vet John Herrmann and his family received 90 acres and two barracks buildings, after the original winner of the lottery left the homestead unclaimed. Meanwhile, John Herrmann was recalled to the Army for service in the Korean War. The Homestead Act required that Homesteaders build a home within five years of receiving the property. Time was running out from the initial lottery date in 1947.
This was obviously an impossible situation for Mr. Herrmann. But, the local Soil Conservation District asked Herrmann if they could hold a major farm event, to demonstrate to local farmers the latest farm management techniques. The District organized 1500 volunteers for the event. Over 11,000 people showed up for the all day event on April 17, 1952. The volunteers demonstrated land leveling and plowing of fields, dug a well and irrigation ditches, moved buildings around on the land, and built the Herrmann family home. [Source: National Park Service]
The Hermann family home presently serves as the temporary Visitor Center, but will be converted back to a part of the Minidoka site historic exhibits when the new Visitor Center is completed.
The first of two outbuildings, re-purposed from Minidoka barracks.
A portion of the original Herrmann family farm yard…
Coming up, “Leaving Minidoka.” See you there…
Grace and peace,