Camp Amache is located in the Southeastern part of Colorado near the town of Granada. Granada during the 1800's was known as "The Gateway to Colorado." It was a popular stopover along the Santa Fe Trail. The town was officially founded in 1873 and named in honor of a former Spanish kingdom by an unknown person or persons. In the late 1800's Granada virtually became a ghost town after losing a bid to become the county seat to Lamar. It was not until 1942 with the building of Camp Amache that Granada once again became a boom town.
The person most responsible for Granada's sudden turnaround was U.S. Senator Edwin C. Johnson of Colorado. "Complying with a request from the federal government the senator recommended a tract of prairie land in Prowers County just south of Granada as a potential sight for one of the relocation centers for Japanese-Americans that were being hastily planned by military officials in Washington, D.C." (Lurie 1990: 39). Senator Johnson like many other Coloradans was against the building of an internment camp in Colorado. The site near Granada met the main criteria set by the government: it was well removed from major population centers. "When the government announced that it had chosen the site in Prowers County for the new internment camp most people in Colorado had never heard of Granada" (Lurie 1990: 40).
The government bought over 10,000 acres of farm land from private owners in the region around the town of Granada. The land was south of the Arkansas River and extended three miles west and four miles east of Granada. Within this area was the deserted town of Koen, which was the former headquarters of the American Crystal Sugar Company. Another area of the land contained former headquarters of the XY ranch and sixteen other farms (see map). "Plans were made to use 640 acres of the land on the lower edge of the entire holdings as the actual camp site" (Holsinger 1960: 37).
Camp Amache officially opened on August 27, 1942. The WRA officials referred to the camp as The Granada Project, but local citizens and camp officials referred to the internment camp as Camp Amache or Amache. Amache was named after an Indian princess who was the daughter of Cheyenne Indian Chief One Eye. She played a fascinating role in Colorado history. With the permission of her father she courted and married John Wesley Prowers, a southern Colorado cattleman credited with bringing the first Hereford breeds into the territory. In 1864 Chief One Eye negotiated a truce between the Cheyenne and Arapaho and the U.S. government. According to the truce the Cheyenne were guaranteed a safe camping area for the winter at their reservation along Sand Creek.
On the morning of November 28 soldiers from the Colorado First Volunteer Calvary rode onto the ranch and held both the Prowers as well as Amache hostage. At the camp along Sand Creek, Colonel John Chivington ordered his regiment to attack the Indians. The raid became known as the Sand Creek massacre. The massacre claimed the lives of 150 Cheyenne and Arapaho. Among the dead was Chief One Eye.
On several occasions at Camp Amache evacuees of the camp claimed to have seen a ghost floating around the grounds at night. Evacuees swore that they had seen "a strange, luminous figure emerge from the shower room and embark upon a stroll of the premises. Some describe [the ghost] as being attired in an Indian costume, the whole body glowing with a faint, greenish light" (Lurie 1990: 43).
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