CVJH History

Canyon View Junior High School Campus–Former Labor and Prisoner of War Camp

war_camp

One of the most unique chapters in the history of Orem relates to its agricultural economy. With a number of Orem’s young men joining the Armed Forces in 1942 and 1943 the supply of labor in the community had dropped to where labor had to be imported to work the fields and for the harvest. As a result, the Utah Farm Labor Association in cooperation with the State of Utah built a labor camp at 1000 North 800 East on a five-acre site owned by James G. Stratton.
The first major occupants of the camp were displaced Japanese-Americans from the Topaz Relocation Camp. Some 200 or more of those people occupied the barracks and tent-top cabins which comprised the Orem camp. Many of them were employed by Orem and other Utah County farmers.
In the autumn of 1944 a number of Italian prisoners of war were brought to the camp to build a high wire fence and watchtowers, as the Japanese-Americans were relocated. The Italians were also employed in local farm work. With World War II winding down in Europe, the Italians were relocated and the camp became home to 340 German prisoners of war. They also found employment with local farmers, and some were able to establish lasting relationships with those farmers.
At the end of the war the German POWs were repatriated. As the need for farm laborers increased, Mexican nationals found their way to Utah, many of them being housed at the former prisoner-of-war camp. For the next 25 years they occupied the Orem Labor Camp until it was dismantled in 1970.

from Booklet produced by the Historic Preservation Advisory Commission, Orem, Utah. ©2009

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