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“Catalina Highway Prison Camp at the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Area” Tour

November 21, 2020 @ 9:00 am - 1:00 pm

Overview of Federal Prison Camp No. 10 in Santa Catalina Mountains, Arizona, 1945; Coronado National Forest photo.

On Saturday, November 21, 2020, Old Pueblo Archaeology Center’s “Catalina Highway Prison Camp at the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Area” tour will be held with archaeologist Bill Gillespie. This tour will meet at Safeway store parking lot, 9125 E. Tanque Verde Rd. (at Catalina Highway intersection), Tucson, at 9:00 a.m. This is a fundraising tour where each registrant is asked to make a donation to help cover Old Pueblo’s tour expenses and support its education programs about archaeology and traditional cultures.

One of the unique archaeological sites in the Santa Catalina Mountains is the location of a federal prison camp occupied in the mid-20th century.  The facility was established for one specific purpose: to provide labor for the construction of the Catalina or Hitchcock Highway connecting Tucson to Mount Lemmon.  Although the project started in 1933, it wasn’t until 1939, when road construction had reached the 7-mile mark, that prisoners were moved from their temporary camp at the base of the mountain to the permanent camp adjacent to Soldier Creek and the highway.  The use of the appealing location by the Hohokam at a much earlier time is marked by petroglyphs, grinding features and artifacts.  In 1999, the U.S. Forest Service named the site the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Area in honor of the Japanese-American civil rights leader who had been imprisoned there during World War II. Participants provide their own transportation and water, and may bring their own lunches to picnic at the camp after the tour. Our guide Bill Gillespie did archaeological fieldwork at Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, and in Jordan before moving to southern Arizona in the mid-1980s to work as an archaeologist for the Coronado National Forest for 25 years.

Donations are due 10 days after reservation request or by 5 p.m. Wednesday November 18, whichever is earlier: 520-798-1201 or info@oldpueblo.org.

Flyer – 20201121(V2)CatalinaHighwayPrisonCampTour


November 21, 2020
9:00 am - 1:00 pm
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