i blog. sort of.

i blog. sort of.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Journey to Topaz

visiting Topaz

We took the back road to Delta, Utah (where you'll find the Topaz Museum), leaving the freeway at SLC and journeying through Vernal and beyond by way of Highway 36.  It was a beautiful drive, if you love deserts and big clouds, which I do.

on the way to Delta, Utah
We passed dozens of bikers--maybe over a hundred.  Guys on hogs, gals on hogs, guys and gals on hogs.  Other than people on motorcycles there was very little traffic on Highway 36, and not one semi.  It was fabulous.

Delta is a stark place; barren, windy, bleak and bland (sorry, Delta).  But in the middle of a too-wide main street there is a beautiful jewel: the Topaz Museum.  It's a gray, modern building with large north-facing windows and inside, lots of airy space.

The current display is artwork from the Topaz art school, which ran while the internment camp was in operation from 1942-1945.  Here is an example of the excellent art on display.

the internment camp, portrayed by an interned resident
Here is what the camp really looked like.

view of Topaz internment camp, approx 1942

And here is what the camp looks like today.

Topaz internment camp, 2015

Topaz internment camp, 2015

The dark gravel was laid down between the barracks, as whenever it rained (and I have a feeling those days were rare) or as snow melted in the spring, the ground turned to sticky mud.  Topaz, like most of central and northern Utah, sits atop what was once the bottom of Lake Bonneville, and the soil is clay-ish.

While at the museum I asked when the barracks were torn down and was told 'almost immediately after the camp closed.'  "People were ashamed of what we did to the Japanese," our museum guide explained.  "They didn't want to be reminded of what had happened here [in Delta]."

 Here's a picture of the ground.  Only the top of the soil is white.  Just underneath, it's dark brown.

looking down at the soil; old nails, shards of tile roofing and small stones

remnants of the zen garden located outside the camp's Buddhist church
The camp was a mile square, and I think is best viewed from satellite on Google Maps, which is pretty amazing seeing as the buildings and foundations have been gone for 70 years.  The view is a sad reminder that scars stay around for a long time.

Saturday's post: After Topaz: a few funky things we found in the desert

1 comment:

  1. I just barely read about Topaz last week in a book. It's on my list of places to visit this summer. Interesting post, thanks for sharing!