Tule Lake Unit - World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument
Tule Lake Segregation Center in 1943
President George W. Bush signed the legislation creating the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument in December, 2008. That legislation merged the memorials in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii with the Aleutian Islands Unit in Alaska and the Tule Lake Segregation Center in California in the one National Monument.
The Tule Lake Unit was first a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in the 1930's, then a site used to incarcerate Americans of Japanese descent in 1943 and finally as a camp housing German and Italian prisoners of war from 1944 to 1946. In the time of the Japanese-American incarcerations, Tule Lake was the largest of the 10 War Relocation Authority camps in the country. The Segregation Center site today is composed of the War Relocation Authority Motor Pool, the Post Engineer's Yard and Motor Pool, the center's stockade, a small piece of the Military Police Compound, several structures that were used to house Japanese-Americans and German and Italian prisoners of war and some of the landscape that surrounds the camp.
The Tule Lake Segregation Center was so named because that is where the government sent those of Japanese descent that were determined to be a threat to those charged with maintaining "law and order" in the other relocation camps. On that basis, Tule Lake was also the most controversial of all the relocation camps and the only camp to be included the the National Monument designation. Most of the other relocation camps are designated as "National Historic Sites" but some have been severely neglected and are almost forgotten.
In later years, Camp Tulelake housed the US Fish & Wildlife Service Regional Sign Shop. From 1958 to 1974, the sign shop produced agency signs for all the wildlife refuges in Oregon, Idaho, Washington, California, Hawaii and Nevada.
The Tule Lake Visitor Center is staffed from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend and is open daily from 8:30 am to 5 pm. The rest of the year the center is unstaffed but open to the public Monday-Friday, 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. The Visitor Center is located at the Tulelake Fairgrounds Museum, 800 Main Street in Tulelake. Rangers offer tours of the Tule Lake Segregation Center on Saturdays at 1 pm during the summer season. To reserve a spot on a tour, call 530-260-0537. There are no fees for visiting or for the tours but there is a fee for visiting the Tulelake Fairgrounds Museum of Local History.
Camp Tulelake is located about 2 miles north of the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. The Tule Lake Segregation Center is located about 5 miles south of the Tule Lake Fairgrounds.The Tule Lake Segregation Center was added to the National Registry of Historic Places and to the National Historic Landmark list on February 17, 2006.
You'll also find Lava Beds National Monument nearby. The Tule Lake Unit of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument is administered in cooperation with the US Fish & Wildlife Service.
Locations of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument units
Photos and maps courtesy of the National Park Service