The Tule Lake POW Camp was located in Siskiyou County, five miles
south of Tule Lake, California. It was established as a branch
camp of the much larger main camp at Camp White, Oregon On 12
May 1944, 54.00 acres were transferred form the Department of
Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service to the War Department. This
camp should not be confused with the nearby Tule Lake Relocation
Camp Tulelake (CCC
Camp FW-3) (National Park Service)
The site was originally used as a Civilian
Conservation Corps camp in the 1930's (Camp FW-3) and was then
used by the War Department as a housing facility for prisoners
of war. The site is now part of the Department of Interior, Fish
and Wildlife Service - Tule Lake National Wildlife Reserve. The
improvements were a water tower and tank, a pumphouse, one paint
shop, a hospital, storage buildings, barracks, mess hall, garages,
administration building, latrines, laundry room, blacksmith shop
and septic tanks.
On 25 April 1946, the site was returned
to the Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service.
of the Tule Lake POW Camp. When comparing it to the photograph
above, you see that a majority of the camp used CCC buildings.
Source: Army Corps of Engineers
Public FUDS GIS Site
Two different groups of
Japanese American evacuees were temporarily held at a CCC camp
located five mile west of the Tule Lake Relocation Center. Over
several months beginning in March 1943, over 100 men from the
Tule Lake Center who had refused to answer the WRA's loyalty
questionnaire were arrested. The men were held at the Tulelake
CCC Camp, as well as at local jails. Some were later returned
to the Tule Lake Relocation Center, but many were transferred
to other facilities run by the Justice Department and the U.S.
Army. The second group of Japanese Americans housed at the Tule
Lake CCC Camp arrived in October 1943 when evacuee farm workers
at the Tule Lake Relocation (Segregation) Center went on strike.
To break the strike the administration brought in 234 Japanese
Americans from other relocation centers who received higher wages
to harvest crops. For their protection, the workers were housed
outside the relocation center at the CCC camp.
The Tulelake CCC Camp
(designated BF-3), built between 1935 and 1938, included 30 buildings.
All of the buildings were wood frame with board and batten siding.
The administration, barracks, mess hall, and hospital were grouped
around a courtyard, with the service area and related structures
to the south. Because both times the WRA used the CCC camp were
of fairly short duration, it seems likely that few changes were
made at the CCC camp for the evacuees.
However, alterations did
occur later during World War II when the CCC camp was converted
for use as a Prisoner of War (POW) camp in May 1944. A double
fence was constructed to form a compound around the barracks
and mess hall. Four guard towers with searchlights were built
at the corners, and a patrol road, gate, and sentry post were
also added for security. The laundry building was enlarged and
a latrine, septic tanks, and a sewage system were added. A guard
house was built within a separately fenced area within the fenced
compound. Two CCC garages, the oil house, and the water tower
were removed from within the fenced compound. Outside the fenced
compound two military barracks, a mess hall and kitchen, a latrine,
and a new water tower were added.
About 150 Italian POWs
lived in tents while setting up the POW camp, while their guards
were housed in a high school gym in the nearby town of Tulelake.
The Italians were shipped out and in June, 250 German POWs arrived.
The POW camp reached its peak population, of 800, by October.
The POWs were used by local farmers and by the Bureau of Reclamation
to clear area canals of moss and algae.
In May 1946 the camp was
turned over to the Fish and Wildlife Service. Some of the buildings
were moved for use elsewhere, but most of the buildings were
razed as they were considered unsafe. Three barracks moved to
the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge in 1949 have since been
destroyed as well.
Today five of the original
CCC buildings which were used by the WRA remain at the site.
The buildings, which include the mess hall and kitchen, a barracks,
a garage, a paint shop, and a pump house, are presently abandoned
and in poor condition. The mess hall/kitchen and paint shop have
concrete slab foundations. The western section of the mess hall
and kitchen was removed when the building was converted into
a living quarters. The U-shaped barracks was converted for use
as a sign shop. The garage has undergone no major alterations,
but the pump house was completely rebuilt in 1952. The paint
shop was converted to a lumber drying shed in 1963, and now has
sheet metal siding. The other buildings appear to retain their
original wood board-and-batten siding.
In addition to the buildings,
there is a 1930s gas pump, with two posts and a partial roof
The site is 2 miles south of State Highway 161 on land now within
the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge. A barbed wire range fence
prevents public access to the buildings. Other than the standing
buildings there is little evidence of CCC or World War II-era
features According to Dave Menke of the Tule Lake National Wildlife
Refuge staff, the current plan is to demolish the remaining buildings.
from Confinement and Ethnicity: An Overview of World War II Japanese
American Relocation Sites