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A Brief History of the WWII

Tuna Canyon Detention Station

All photos used with the permission of David Scott, the Scott Family and Little Landers Historical Society.  Photos may not be used unless written permission has been obtained from the Little Landers Historical Society.

Text Box: The mission of the Little Landers Historical Society includes working within our community “…. in cooperation with City, State, and National agencies and officials to designate and preserve historic buildings and sites.”   In June of 2006 Little Landers Historical Society joined with the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley in working toward recognition for the site of the WWII Tuna Canyon Detention Station.  This site is located where the Verdugo Hills Golf Course currently stands at the corner of LaTuna Canyon and Tujunga Canyon Boulevards in Tujunga. 

The location is rich in history beginning with the Tongva Village under the oaks along the spring fed creek, followed by several Spanish and Mexican land grants and then local residents established farms with orchards and vineyards.  In 1933, the location became one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camps, training and educating young men struggling to survive the depression.  When Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, the CCC Camp was disbanded, and a temporary holding center, the Tuna Canyon Detention Station was established for up to 300 immigrants of German, Italian, and Japanese descent whose loyalty was considered questionable. 

The appearance of the CCC Camp changed dramatically.  A 12-foot fence topped with three strands of barbed wire and floodlights surrounded the area where prisoners would be kept.  With guard towers on each corner, a lookout tower on the northern ridge, a cleared area outside of the fence, and an armed patrol walking the fence, there was little chance of escape.  

The Tuna Canyon Detention Station operated until October of 1943.  Of the 2,562 prisoners processed there between 1941 and 1943, 2,316 (90.4%) were Japanese born.  This number included Japanese individuals imported from Peru by our government to hold as hostages for prisoner exchange.  The Italian and German detainees were released when the detention station closed.  However, all of the Japanese prisoners were transferred to what President Roosevelt referred to as “concentration camps” scattered all across the south and as far north as the Canadian border.  Some would rejoin their families at these remote camps and others would not see their families until 3 to 5 years later.

In the Spring of 2013, CD7 Councilman Richard Alarcon nominated the TCDS site for Los Angeles City Cultural Heritage Monument (CHM) status before the City Council.  The City Council approved the CHM designation and a one-acre portion of the location near a grove of old oak trees has been set aside for a memorial to those who were detained there.  The TCSD is now Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Monument #1039.  An official dedication was held at the Verdugo Hills Golf Course on December 16, 2013.

There is much more to learn about this project and the ways in which you can help.  The Little Landers Historical Society and TCDS Coalition invite you to visit the TCDS Facebook page (link below) to learn more and to leave your comments. 
Text Box: 210 Freeway
Text Box: Traveling Exhibit

Previewed on October 2nd, 2016 at the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center in Pacoima, the exhibit is now on the road and will be shown at the following locations     (all dates are subject to change):

October 7th to December 3rd, 2016 — Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego
December 12th, 2016 to April 9th, 2017 — Japanese American National Museum
April 15th to June 15th, 2017 — Manzanar
July 1st to September 5th, 2017 — Bolton Hall Museum
October 15th, 2017 to January 7th, 2018 — Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center
January 15th to April 15th, 2018 — Santa Barbara Historical Museum 

Complete details can be found on the TCDS web-site.