Topaz: Utah’s Fifth-Largest City

You are now in Topaz, Utah. Here we say Dining Hall not Mess Hall; Safety Council, not Internal Police; Residents, not Evacuees; and last but not least, Mental Climate, not Morale.” —from the first issue of the Topaz Times[1]

In September of 1942, Japanese Americans began arriving in Topaz via crowded trains. During its operation, the Central Utah Relocation Center was Utah’s fifth-largest city with a peak population of 8,100 people living within a square mile.[2]

View of Topaz from above
Photograph of Topaz from above.
(Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections & Archives, Leonard J. Arrington Photograph Collection, P0316, Box 3, Fd. 27, image 16B)

Why Central Utah?

Delta, located just east of Topaz, was the only community that expressed interest in hosting a relocation center. Other city governments and councils were opposed to the idea of “Japanese enemy aliens” being held near their cities, fearing that Japanese Americans would harm civilians.[3] After the Depression of the 1930s, the Millard County government believed creating and maintaining a relocation center would boost their local economy.[4]

Views About Japanese Americans in Utah

Life at Topaz

[1] “Words,” Topaz Times, September 17, 1942, pg. 2.
[2] Central Utah Relocation Center, “Welcome to Topaz,” September 1943, in Leonard J. Arrington papers, LJAHA Coll 1, Series XII, Box 146, Fd. 7.
[3] Leonard J. Arrington papers, Coll 1. Series XII, Box 146, Fd. 8.
[4] Leonard J. Arrington papers, Coll 1. Series XII, Box 146, Fd. 8.