Dalton Wells Civilian Conservation Corps Camp and Moab Relocation Center
Though there is little to nothing to identify the Dalton Wells site as significant, the spot--roughly thirteen miles north of Moab--played a role in two of the most significant events in twentieth century US history. During the New Deal, the site was the location of a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. Later, when the CCC camp was no longer in use, the site was used as a relocation camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II. The site is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Backstory and Context
In the 1930s, the site was home to a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. The CCC was a New Deal program created to provide work to young men between the ages of 18 and 25. Men who worked for the CCC were usually put to work planting trees, building state parks, and other conservation projects. They were housed in barracks and were paid $30 a month, of which $25 was to be sent home to family. None of the buildings used by the CCC remain, but the remaining foundations indicate their location. Cottonwoods near the entrance were planted by the CCC. The camp was in operation from July of 1935 to 1941.
Within a matter of months of the closure of the CCC camp, the site was used by the government as a relocation center for Japanese-Americans. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the government authorized the internment of Japanese-Americans because of fears that they could plot against the United States. Numerous internment camps were established throughout the country, but most were located in the western United States.
From January of 1941 to April of 1943, the former CCC camp functioned as the Moab Relocation Center for the Incarceration of Japanese Americans. The Dalton Wells relocation center never held a large population of internees; at its peak, the camp was home to forty-nine men.
The Dalton Wells relocation camp began as a result of the Manzanar riot in December of 1941. On the first anniversary of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, the riot at California's Manzanar facility grew out of the beating of one of the internees, Fred Tayama. Guards at the camp fired into a crowd of internees, killing two and injuring numerous others. Following the event, which came to be known as the Manzanar "riot," those internees identified as troublemakers at Manzanar were shipped to Dalton Wells.
Each of the internment camps was bleak and isolated from civilization, but Dalton Wells was worse than most in those regards. Because of the association of its inmates with the Manzanar riot, the men there endured harsher restrictions than those imposed at other camps. Their mail was censored, and they were not allowed contact with their family. In April of 1943, the Dalton Wells inmates were moved to Arizona and eventually back to California.
The Dalton Wells site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Dalton Wells Civilian Conservation Corps Camp and Moab Relocation Center. Noe Hill Travels in Utah. Accessed October 28, 2017. https://noehill.com/ut_grand/nat1994000366.asp.