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Child at Heart Mountain

An incarcerated child sits in the snow with a toy bear at Heart Mountain during World War II. A February program, titled “Kids Behind Barbed Wire,” will explore what growing up inside inside the Wyoming internment camp was like — and how grown-ups put forth their best efforts to allow kids to be kids in the harsh conditions.

Courtesy photo

POWELL, Wyo. — Heart Mountain Interpretive Center plays host to three programs about the history of the site this winter.

Staff members will present the programs “Winter Inside Heart Mountain” on Saturday, Jan. 20; “Kids Behind Barbed Wire” on Saturday, Feb. 24; and “Putting Food on the Table” on Saturday, March 24. All programs begin at 1 p.m. and are free with museum admission.

World War II relocation camp

A historic photo from the Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center shows a World War II relocation camp near Ralston, Wyoming. The Heart Mountain Interpretive Center has announced three new programs about the history of the site, the first starting Saturday, Jan. 20.

“Winter Inside Heart Mountain,” the first program in the series, will focus on the most difficult season for those incarcerated in the Heart Mountain camp. The thin walls of the residential barracks and the meager coal rations provided little protection against the elements for the Japanese-Americans held there. Even so, attendees to the program will learn that winter was a time when Heart Mountain residents pulled together for strength, celebrated their makeshift community, and even managed to have a little fun.

The February program, “Kids Behind Barbed Wire,” will explore what growing up inside Heart Mountain was like. Being forced from their homes and sent to Heart Mountain was a confusing and frightening experience for Japanese-American children. Despite great odds and cruel conditions, children at HM found times and spaces to be children. With help from their friends and families, they coped with life in the camp by developing games and activities to make their childhoods as normal as possible. During this family-friendly program, attendees will see the camp from a child’s eyes, and even have a chance to try out some of the games and activities that kids at Heart Mountain took part in.

The final program in the series, “Putting Food on the Table,” will look at the history of the Heart Mountain Agriculture Program. With their advanced backgrounds in agriculture, plus ingenuity and hard labor, the farmers incarcerated at Heart Mountain turned a dry stretch of high desert into a life-sustaining oasis. Attendees will discover just how they did it in this enlightening program.

All three programs are free with museum admission. Alternatively, visitors may purchase a $7 “season pass” at the interpretive center that will cover admission for the entire series. Admission will be waived for Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation members.

Heart Mountain Interpretive Center tells the story of some 14,000 Japanese-Americans unjustly incarcerated in Wyoming from 1942 through 1945. The center is located between Cody and Powell on Highway 14A. Museum admission is $7 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Children under 12 and members of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation are free.

For more information, call 307-754-8000 or visit


Entertainment Reporter

Jaci Webb covers entertainment for The Billings Gazette.