The Fate of Things: Archeological Investigations at the Minidoka Relocation Center Dump, Jerome County, Idaho


Between August 11 and 20, 2004, the National Park Service conducted archeological mapping and feature recording at the Minidoka Relocation Center Dump, near Twin Falls, Idaho. The dump, on public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is about a mile north of the Minidoka Internment National Monument. The dump covers more than 26 acres, and contains trash and features dating to later periods as well as the relocation center era. In all, 229 trash features

and over 260 discrete debris piles, scattered debris areas, and coal residue piles were recorded. Diagnostic artifacts allowed most of the features to be classified by decade of deposition and function. Only the relocation-era features appear to have significant depth of cultural deposit.

The daily trash produced at the Minidoka Relocation Center between 1942 and 1945 appears to have been systematically disposed of, mostly in a prepared pit and in other concentrations in a relatively small area, about 2.5 acres in size. However, when the relocation center was abandoned, almost 10 times as much land became the dumping grounds for demolished structures, construction debris, and the institutional furnishings that were no longer needed. The sheer volume of materials, even after much usable building material was removed for recycling, and the speed with which the center was demolished created a dump covering 26 acres. In effect, the debris piles transformed the original dump environs into a much larger wasteland. The wasteland was unsuitable for farming, but perfectly suitable for more trash disposal, and nearby households added trash for the next three decades. Regular trash disposal at the Minidoka Dump occurred until 1982, with a final trash

disposal at the site in 1988.

Impacts noted at the Minidoka Dump include digging, apparently by bottle collectors, and some trampling and damage from vehicles. Recommendations for future management of the Minidoka dump include land acquisition, fencing, additional archeological testing of the relocation-era trash features, oral histories and more detailed recording of post-relocation center features (especially if they are to be removed), and evaluation for hazardous materials.

Cite this Record

The Fate of Things: Archeological Investigations at the Minidoka Relocation Center Dump, Jerome County, Idaho. Jeffery F. Burton. Publications in Anthropology ,90. Tucson, Arizona: Western Archeological Center. 2005 ( tDAR id: 3966) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8GM8687

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Temporal Coverage

Calendar Date: 1940 to 1988

Spatial Coverage

min long: -113.545; min lat: 42.728 ; max long: -113.442; max lat: 42.784 ;

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