World War II Japanese-American Internment Museum
The WWII Japanese American Internment Museum opened in April 2013 and is housed in the renovated McGehee Railroad Depot. The Museum shares the history of the 17,147 Americans of Japanese descent who were imprisoned at nearby Jerome and Rohwer during World War II. The Museum is a good place to learn about the history, before visiting the former prison camp sites at Rohwer and Jerome. The Missouri Pacific Railroad Depot-McGehee was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.
Backstory and Context
War hysteria, racial prejudice, and failure of political leadership led to the forced removal of 120,000 Japanese Americans from the West Coast following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. Two-thirds of those incarcerated were American-born citizens, most under 21 years old. These Americans were imprisoned in 10 camps across the United States, including Rohwer and Jerome in Desha County, Arkansas.
The World War II Japanese-American Internment Museum opened in 2013 inside the railroad depot. Since its opening, thousands of visitors from all 50 states and from 44 countries have toured the Museum.
In 1945, two large concrete monuments were erected in the Rohwer Memorial Cemetery. The first monument was dedicated to all those who died while incarcerated at Rohwer. The second monument commemorates the young men who fought and lost their lives while serving in Europe in the United States Army’s "Go For Broke" 100th Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
Restoration work at the Rohwer Japanese American Relocation Center Cemetery was recognized in 2015 by the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas for Excellence in Preservation Through Restoration.
Little remains of the Jerome and Rohwer prison camps, which now are surrounded by farmland and some portions on private land, however their locations can be viewed. The Rohwer Relocation Center Memorial Cemetery can be viewed during daylight hours, with parking on the gravel road into the cemetery.
Missouri Pacific Railroad Depot-McGehee. Wikipedia. . Accessed April 16, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missouri_Pacific_Railroad_Depot-McGehee.
"JA Internment Museum Dedicated in Arkansas 1." Rafu Shimpo(Los Angeles) April 24, 2013. . https://www.rafu.com/2013/04/ja-internment-museum-dedicated-in-arkansas/
National and State Historic Landmarks and Places. Desha County Historical Society. . Accessed April 16, 2018. http://deshacountyhistorical.org/Historic%20Sites.htm.