The root cellar is special in many ways. It is the only surviving camp structure built entirely by Japanese Americans. Construction began in the summer of 1943, as part of the camp’s agriculture program. That year, the incarcerated laborers of the agriculture program accomplished what was known as the “Heart Mountain Miracle,” turning a dry Wyoming desert into verdant farmland in less than a year.
The cellar, built to hold produce from those fields, is more than 300 feet long and nearly 40 feet wide. Yet, it held less than half of the vegetables needed to feed the Heart Mountain camp. Another identical cellar, now collapsed, once stood next to it. Without proper restoration, our cellar will suffer the same fate as its twin. The current project, which will only stabilize 32 feet of the structure, is just the beginning.
This incredible structure tells the story of a Japanese American community that refused to be broken, and overcame incredible odds to feed and care for its people. We look forward to the day when we will be able to safely open the cellar for public tours. We ask that you help us in raising the funds necessary to complete these steps. Any amount raised beyond our initial goal will go toward future restoration of the cellar. Together, we can keep this important piece of history standing, a witness for future generations.