The Minidoka Camp, or Japanese Relocation Center, is a 33,000 acre historic site, one of the largest camps built in the US and was constructed by the Morrison-Knudsen Corporation, and a former Boise based company.
During WWII, the Japanese American internment camp was built in Jerome and once held up to 12,000 mostly US citizens from 1942-1945, and consisted of 36 housing blocks with schools, stores and fire stations. It became Idaho’s 8th largest city. The camp was originally bound by five miles of barbed wire fencing with eight towers manned by military policed.
The center, built in just six months, was dismantled after the war and turned into farms. In 2006, Congress guaranteed $38 million for Minidoka’s restoration along with other former internment camps.
Today, Minidoka is a national historic site with structures and an interpretive trail that attracts over 80,000 visitors annually.
As a class project, 25 BSU students designed, built and erected an era authentic guard tower last spring funded by a federal grant through the Friends of Minidoka, a nonprofit group of survivors and relatives.
The BSU project was part of a course led by professors Rebecca Minsky and Casey Cline that researched construction techniques, historical context and federal building methods. Without original construction drawings, students developed the design from a single photograph using building information modeling and a one-third scale mock up. Cole Architects and Axiom Engineering, both in Boise, provided pro-bono construction drawings.
BSU’s Associated General Contractors student chapter built the 26.5 foot tall tower on campus, disassembling it to transport to the park and rebuilding there with concrete footings. A forklift helped erect the wood structure atop an X-brace base some 50 feet in the air.
The National Park Service required historically accurate details, like a cedar shingled roof and single pane windows.
Preservation Idaho is honored to present the 2016 award of Cultural Heritage Preservation to the BSU Construction Management Department, the National Park Service, Friends of Minidoka, Cole Architects and Axiom Engineering in an extraordinary team project for such an important piece of Idaho history.