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Photos of archaeological Excavation at Minidoka National Historic Site: August 2-8, 2002
One year can make a difference! During August 2-8, 2002, National Park Service archaeologists from the Western Archeological and Conservation Center conducted an excavation at the Minidoka National Historic Site. The photo on the left was taken one year ago and the newly cleaned up version on the right was shot just this August.

Using historical photographs as their guide, the archaeologists excavated the site of a structure that was adjacent to the guard building located at the entrance area of the former Minidoka Relocation Center. The outline and foundation of this additional building was revealed. Although they did not locate the footings, artifacts and remnants of Minidoka camp life were found. Bottle caps with cork linings, dating to the 1940s were found buried in the soil. Also, pieces of windowglass, wood and pieces of coal were uncovered. Each artifact was cataloged and its location documented.

Across the road from the Guard Station is the location of the Minidoka Honor Roll Sign. The Honor Roll sign was installed in 1943 and listed the names of all the men from Minidoka who were serving in the U.S. Army. Crowned with an American eagle, the sign proclaimed the patriotism and loyalty of the Minidoka internees. In the photo to the left, one can still see the cobblestone walkway, which led up to the sign. The archaeological team uncovered the rock-lined pathway. In 1944, a Japanese rock garden was created right behind the Honor Roll. Fujitsu Kubota, a renowned Seattle landscape architect, designed this rock garden utilizing distinctive and traditional Japanese aesthetics. Now that the National Park Service has cleaned up the area around the Honor Roll and garden, one can walk among the three small rock features and up onto the large mounted center formation. Few historical photographs of this garden have been recovered. Anyone with knowledge about or photographs of this important feature is encouraged to contact Anna Tamura at:

The archaeological dig attracted a great deal of media attention. Several TV and newspaper reporters visited the site and reported on the excavation at the Minidoka National Historic Site. In the photo to the left, Anna Tamura explains features of the camp to a Boise TV news crew.

The public was invited to visit the monument during the excavation and local interest in the excavation resulted in a steady stream of visitors. Some even volunteered to take a shovel in hand and dirty themselves in the sand. As each carload departed, the lessons to be learned from Minidoka were being spread. Many Twin Falls area residents had heard about Minidoka, or the "Hunt Camp," but had never ventured out to the site. The National Park Service volunteers and employees spent much of their time giving tours and answering questions for visitors of all ages and backgrounds.

Many of the visitors have deep personal connections to Minidoka. Roger Shimomura, an internationally recognized artist and former Minidoka internee traveled from Seattle and spent an entire at the site. People from Illinois, Washington, California, even a family from Yokohama Japan came to the monument during the week of the excavation. Two Nisei women who had been interned at Minidoka and then settled in Twin Falls after the war came out to the site with copies of the Minidoka Interlude. Personal memories and stories of life in the relocation camp were recounted and images of family members and acquaintances recalled from a period of time long since passed but enduring in memory.

Photo of excavation team The excavation project staff and volunteers were outstanding. Top left to right: Dick Lord, Ron Beckwith, Jan Harper, Ronald L. James, Jim Burton, Carl Aberle, and Richard Amano. Bottom left to right: Emily Hanako Momohara, Anna Tamura, Carl Aberle Jr., Laura Bergstresser, Leah, and Jeffrey F. Burton.
Photographer: Teresa Tamura
Text written by Emily Hanako Momohara and Ronald L. James
Photos copyrighted by Emily Hanako Momohara