Topaz

TOPAZ

Official name: Central Utah Relocation Center Location: Millard County, Utah
Coordinates: 39.41° N, 112.77° W Size of camp: 19,800 acres
Opening date: September 11, 1942 Peak population: 8,130
Date of peak: March 17, 1943 Closing date: October 31, 1945

Topaz is known by several names: Central Utah Relocation Authority, Abraham Relocation Authority, and Topaz (named after Topaz Mountain). Topaz was located in the town of Delta, Utah, approximately 125 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. Over the course of three years, the majority of the 11,212 people incarcerated at Topaz were from the San Francisco Bay Area. The desert climate meant temperatures that soared over 100 degrees fahrenheit in summer and well below zero in winter. These harsh temperatures were coupled with frequent dust and wind storms. At Topaz, a community of writers and artists under the guidance of Chiura Obata, an art instructor at the University of California, Berkeley, formed. Along with Miné Okubo, Hisako Hibi, and George Matsusaburo Hibi, Obata taught over 6,000 students art classes. In addition, the short-lived literary magazine Trek (December 1942-June 1943), featured pieces by a range of well-known Nisei writers and artwork by artists like Okubo.