It's been over 40 years since the last remnant of the World War II prisoner of war camp in Orem was torn down and the barracks torched. The only thing left to remind us of the camp is the history plaque there to preserve the memory and history.
The plaque reads:
WORLD WAR II P.O.W. CAMP
DEDICATED DECEMBER 12, 1943
In December 1943, Governor Herbert B. Maw dedicated a five acre site at this location for the use of the War Department during the latter part of World War II. The first occupants of the camp which was build here were approximately 200 Japanese-Americans, part of the thousands that were relocated to the intermountain West from West coast during the war. The internees lived here during the summer and fall of 1944. Beginning in the fall of 1944 and continuing through July 1946, German and Italian prisoners of war were housed here, eventually reaching a total of 340. After the prisoners were released in 1946, the camp served as living quarters for farm workers until about 1970, when the buildings were torn down.
City of Orem
Historical Preservation Advisory Commission
One of the most unique chapters in the history of Orem relates to its agricultural economy. From very small beginnings in 1861, agriculture grew to important proportions by December 7, 1941, when the United States entered World Wall II.
With a number of Orem's young men joining the Armed Forces in 1942 and 1943, the supply of labor in the community had dropped to where labor had to be imported to work the fields and harvest. As a result, the Utah Farm Labor Association in cooperation with the State of Utah, built a labor camp at 950 North 800 East on a five-acre site owned by James G. Stratton.
However, the first major occupants of the camp were displaced Japanese-Americans from the Topaz Relocation Camp. Some 200 or more of those people occupied the barracks and tent-top cabins which comprised the Orem camp. Many of them were employed by Orem and other Utah County farmers.
In the autumn of 1944 a number of Italian prisoners of war were brought to the camp to build a high wire fence and watchtowers, as the Japanese-Americans were relocated. The Italians, also, were employed in local farm work.
With World War II winding down in Europe, the Italians were reallocated and the camp became home to 240 prisoners of war, captured in Germany. They, too, found employment with local farmers, and some of them were able to establish lasting relationships with those who employed them.
At the end of the war the Germans were repatriated. As the need for farm laborers increased, Mexican nationals found their way to Utah, many of them being housed at the former prisoner-of-war camp in Orem. For the next 25 years they occupied the Orem Labor Camp until it was dismantled in 1970.
The above information was taken from the plaque and the below websites.
The local paper the Herald has a news article: