DELTA -- A museum project that will preserve the history of what many say were the injustices to Japanese-Americans in the desert of western Utah during World War II has received a boost through a $7,500 donation from Zions Bank Corp.
The Topaz internment camp was established in the early 1940s near Delta when Japanese-Americans were moved from their homes on the West Coast to 10 inland locations as a precautionary measure. The United States was at war with Japan, and officials feared some of those on the coast might not be loyal to America.The camp was named for the nearby Topaz Mountain. It opened in September of 1942 and housed more than 8,000 Japanese-Americans, mostly from the San Francisco area. Many of those who spent time there, as well as some of their descendants, received an apology from the United States and monetary remuneration. Some have returned to the site since that time for reunions.
The museum project began in 1989 when a nonprofit organization was established, according to Jane Beckwith, museum board president. She said members felt it was "important that we erect a facility as a monument to the courage and perseverance of Japanese-Americans who suffered through this crisis." Members view the museum as an important basic education facility.
Some 400 acres of the original campsite have been purchased for preservation.