Building awareness of historical markers

Historic markers for Camp Lordsburg and Ft. Stanton have been developed by the planning board, Van Citters Historic Preservation, and cooperating partners. Although Santa Fe already has a memorial marker in place, the team is considering installing a more visible roadside marker to help reach a wider audience. Because the original Camp Lordsburg site is located on private property, the Camp Lordsburg marker will be placed in the City of Lordsburg. The Ft. Stanton marker will be placed on the Fort property. A marker at the site of the Old Raton Ranch is currently being considered by the project planning board.

Camp Lordsburg

Plans for Camp Lordsburg began in January of 1942, and the camp operated as an Internment and Prisoner of War Camp from June 1942 to June 1945. The camp was constructed under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice (DOJ), run by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and administered by the U.S. Army under the authority of the Enemy Aliens Act of 1798. Japanese Issei (the first generation immigrants from Japan who were ineligible for U.S. citizenship) were confined at Lordsburg between June 1942 and 1943, after which point the population at Camp Lordsburg was German and Italian POWs.

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Santa Fe Camp

In February 1942, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) acquired an 80 acre tract of land from the New Mexico State Penitentiary (1 1⁄2 miles from the center of Santa Fe). The tract held an abandoned CCC camp that was constructed in 1933 to house 450 men. In less than 2 months, the camp was converted into a confinement center to house 1,400 people. The INS saw this as a temporary holding facility to house West Coast detainees until the California hearing boards could determine their fate. The first internees arrived in mid-March and by April 1942 the camp population was at 826 people. During the next three months, five separate Alien Enemy Hearing Boards occurred and, as a result, the camp population steadily declined: the hearing boards released 523 and ordered 302 interned in Army custody. On September 24, 1942, the last internee departed and by November the camp was deactivated and left in the hands of a caretaker staff.

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Fort Stanton (Old Raton Ranch)

In late January of 1942, 32 Japanese residents of Clovis, New Mexico, were uprooted from their homes and sent to an isolated, little-known confinement camp near Fort Stanton, called the Old Raton Ranch. The Clovis residents included the families of ten Japanese who were employed by the Santa Fe Railroad (primarily as machinists with top seniority), and who had arrived in the town between 1919 and 1922. In 1922 there was a union-led walkout and strike by the railroad shopmen that the Japanese workers refused to join. This contributed to ill feelings on the part of the Anglo workers and in turn, the railroad company favored the Japanese—they had a reputation as excellent workers who caused no trouble. Prior to World War II, the Japanese workers and their families lived rent free in a cluster of one-story buildings that were located 75 yards east of the roundhouse. Although the Japanese were largely isolated, the children attended local schools and some townspeople visited the compound to purchase fresh vegetables and items the families had imported from Japan.

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