ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING
Memories of Hanford’s Camp Columbia
Seventy-seven years ago, in January 1943, the Army began the process of acquiring nearly 500,000 acres—670 square miles—of land south of the Great Horn of the Columbia River for what would become the Hanford Engineer Works.
Construction of the massive complex began in March while many of the residents were still living in homes and ranches. On March 6, they received eviction notices, forcing them to leave their crops and orchards—for most, the only source of income—behind. If not tended and harvested, the crops would wither and die in the summer heat. The Army felt that to allow the former owners to come back to harvest their crops would pose a security risk. And yet, the crops were valuable and could help offset the cost of construction at the Hanford site. Another way had to be found.
The Army turned to the federal Bureau of Prisons, contracting with them to provide convict labor McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary to harvest the crops. The Columbia prison camp, located just northwest of the Horn Rapids Dam on the Yakima River opened in March 1944.
Bob Taylor’s father was the superintendent of the camp from 1944 until it closed in 1947. Taylor lived there as a young boy. He will share his vivid memories of life in the camp, backed up by pictures and documents at the virtual Annual Meeting of the Columbia Basin Badger Club on January 21 at 7pm. There will be a brief report to the membership and election of Directors, followed by Taylor’s presentation.
Advance registration is required. The cost to attend is $5 for non-members. Since we’re using Zoom, registration is a two-step process: First, register on the Badger Club website. Your email confirmation will include the link to register with Zoom. Once you register with Zoom, you will receive the link to attend the meeting.