The Coronado National Forest includes a popular recreation area called the Gordon Hirabayashi Campground. The site was formerly the Catalina Federal Prison Camp, which was used during World War II. Inmates at the camp built over 20 miles of road through the Coronado National Forest, which would become the Catalina Highway.
According to a 2010 article in the Tucson Citizen, “The prisoners housed there were convicted of breaking federal immigration or tax laws…most were conscientious objectors, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hopi Indians and Japanese Americans (about 40) protesting their relocation & draft. Many resisted the draft because their families were at the same time in the 10 large W.R.A. [War Relocation Authority] internment camps.”
Dr. Gordon Hirabayashi, who was a college student during World War II, was imprisoned in the Catalina Federal Prison Camp after resisting the curfew and internment of Japanese Americans on Constitutional grounds. Dr. Hirabayashi’s conviction was overturned by a Supreme Court panel in 1987.The Catalina Federal Prison Camp closed in 1951 upon completion of the Catalina Highway. The camp itself was torn down in the 1970s, and the area came to be known as “Prison Camp”. This site was officially renamed Gordon Hirabayashi Campground in 1999.
As noted by the Tucson Citizen, interpretive signs describing the history behind the campground have been made available for visitors. More information about the Gordon Hirabayashi Campground can be found here:
Classen, Carolyn. "Visit the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site (former WWII prison camp) - Carolyn's Community." Tucson Citizen. http://tucsoncitizen.com/community/2010/09/06/visit-the-gordon-hirabayashi-recreation-site-former-wwii-prison-camp/ (accessed March 15, 2012).
"Coronado National Forest - Gordon Hirabayashi Campground ." US Forest Service - Caring for the land and serving people. http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coronado/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=25648&actid=50 (accessed March 15, 2012).
Goldstein, Richard. "Gordon Hirabayashi, 93; Challenged Wartime Internment." New York Times 4 Jan. 2012: A16(L). Gale Biography In Context (accessed March 15, 2012).
"Japanese-American Wins Internment Appeal." New York Times 11 Feb. 1986. Gale Biography In Context (accessed March 15, 2012).
Last Update: 7-13-2012 1:42pm