Scanning at the Tule Lake Segregation Center

by Taline Ayanyan
October 28, 2011
As you may already know, CyArk has been enthusiastically making progress on the project to digitally preserve three out of ten War Relocation Authority Relocation Centers from World War II. Under a grant from the National Park Service's Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program, the Topaz Relocation Center was the first to get laser scanned in August, followed by Manzanar in September. The third of the relocation centers is Tule Lake, which will be captured the first week of November.

Scott Lee from CyArk will join the Center of Preservation Research team from the University of Colorado Denver at the relocation center, located near the Oregon border, adjacent to a town named Newell. Newell is a small town located over what used to be the administrative area of the Tule Lake Segregation Center. The Newell Grocery store, for example, used to be the recreation center for staff personnel. As with most buildings erected for the various confinement camps, the Japanese American internees were put to work in constructing a building whose use they had no say in. The large stone fireplace they built at the staff recreation center still stands today.

Each of the WWII Relocation Centers has a very unique and complex story. Tule Lake was unique as the one WRA (War Relocation Authority) camp which was converted into a maximum security segregation center. This happened in 1943 after the WRA distributed a highly controversial survey to all internees, which included two questions that caused it to be known as the "loyalty questionnaire." Those who answered these two questions "correctly" would be considered as non-threats, while those who answered the questions "incorrectly" were deemed disloyal to the United States. The internees were required to answer the clumsily worded "loyalty" questions with no help offered to clarify the confusion they caused. Not answering the questions also put the internee in the disloyal category. As a result, Tule Lake had, by far, the largest percentage of "disloyals," compared to other camps where workshops were held to answer internee questions about the questionnaire. Consequently, a decision was made to turn Tule Lake into a maximum security segregation center and even bring in "disloyals" from other camps. In order to increase security at Tule Lake, more watch towers were installed near the barracks and a double-fence was erected (one short "warning fence" followed by a six-foot-tall "man-proof" fence).

To capture this story and share it with the world, CyArk is planning the launch of a special Japanese American Confinement Sites web portal within the CyArk website. The laser scanning at Tule Lake will play an important role by providing a "foundation" for a 3D digital reconstruction model of what the camp looked like in its days of use. The 3D model, along with a large collection of historic photographs, drawings, and oral histories will be featured on the CyArk web portal.

CyArk and the CU Denver Center of Preservation Research team are excited to capture what remains of the camp and create a highly accurate and geo-located data set to be used for the 3D model and the long term archiving of this important site. Equipped with Leica C10 and Scan Station 2 scanners, DSLR cameras, and survey equipment, the team will commence scanning on Monday, October 31st. They will be hosted by Superintendent, Dave Kruse, and Chief of Visitor Services, Terry Harris, of the nearby Lava Beds National Monument. For more information about the Tule Lake Segregation Center, visit the NPS website here.
Original Entrance Gate of the Tule Lake Segregation Center
The State Historical Landmark erected near the original entrance gate by the Tule Lake Committee in 1979
A portion of the "man-proof" fence near the prison stockade at the Tule Lake Segregation Center