The Homesteader Museum, Powell, Wyoming

After visiting the internment camp, Vicki and I continued into the town of Powell to visit the Homesteader Museum, which has free admission. A good chunk of it was closed because they had just opened for the season, but there was plenty to explore, and the price was right!

We both loved the lilac bushes outside. They are my favourite flower.



The main part of the museum is this big room with lots of treasures in it!


We were greeted by a museum worker who gave us a very good introduction to the history and geography of the area, including how this was basically a desert until irrigation made the land arable. Then, Vicki and I started poking around the exhibits. There were tons of interesting things and I only took a few pictures.

I had a very similar typewriter back in the day.


I was fascinated by the adding machines on display.


Here’s an older one.


And this is a full-on calculator!


This was the play table. I had fun playing with the typewriter.


This is the smallest typewriter I’ve ever seen!


A 1940s homesteader’s two-room cabin.






This cabin is 30 years older than the log one!




It had a closet!


Read the last paragraph on this one. Vicki and I had a chuckle.


The wallpaper was lovely.



Vicki had never been in a caboose before.






We loved this intricately carved clock…


And umbrella stand and chair and…




One of the exhibits they are working on is a blacksmith’s shop, so there will be lots more to see as the season moves on!

The Heart Mountain Interpretive Center – WWII Japanese American Confinement Site

Vicki’s and my plan for today was not going to be much fun, but it was necessary. We visited the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, which was a Japanese American confinement site or concentration camp, depending on who you speak to, during WWII after the bombing of Pearl Harbour. More than 130,000 people of Japanese ancestry, two thirds of whom were American citizens, were uprooted and displaced away from the coasts. The northernmost camp was at Heart Mountain, near Powell, Wyoming.

The centre is privately run and really well laid out, giving a full portrait of the injustices and racism the Japanese Americans faced that culminated in their internment. I had a lot of prior knowledge and Vicki almost none and we both felt that the material was at our level. I alternated between anger and grief as I moved through the exhibits and then went above the centre to do the walking trail and tour the ruins of the hospital complex.

The internees spent three years in the camp, which sounds like so little time, but their lives were destroyed. Even release from the camp did not bring freedom because there was still such a strong anti-Japanese sentiment. The younger folks did better than the elders since they were sheltered from the harsh realities of camp. They were able to be children while the adults fought against boredom and scarcity. There were many suicides before and after release.

Some internees tried to return home after the war, but found there was no home to go back to. With just $25 and a ticket to anywhere in the US, they were released back into a world that did not want them. Wyoming’s governor went on record to say that he did not want the Japanese to stay in Wyoming. The stigma of internship has remained through the generations, with these American citizens passing on to their children that they were somehow inferior to the Caucasians. Most of the adults interred in the camps chose to pretend those three years did not happen.

What the United States did to the Japanese during World War II is not unique. Canada did the same thing, a little known fact that the lady at the centre said she had only just very recently found out. What distresses me is that the current climate in the United States feels very ripe for this sort of thing to happen again. Please, please, please go visit Heart Mountain if you are in the Yellowstone region or the Manzanar National Historic site in California.

This post was fact checked by Vicki. Thank you!