The name Prison camp came from the Federal Honor Camp begun in 1937 to house federal prisoners supplying labor to build a road providing access into the Santa Catalina Mountains. Prisoners had been convicted of federal crimes ranging from immigration law violations to tax evasion to bank robbery.
During World War II, many of the prisoners were conscientious objectors whose religions prohibited them from serving in the military. Some were Japanese Americans protesting the “Japanese American Relocation,” the largest forced removal and incarceration in U.S. History. After the Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, over 100,000 Japanese Americans, many American Citizens, were imprisoned in crowded internment camps for fear they would conduct espionage and sabotage along the west coast.
Gordon Hirabayashi was a senior at the University of Washington in 1942. He challenged the constitutionality of internment based on race or ancestry. He turned himself in to the FBI rather than report for relocation. He was convicted and sentenced to serve at the honor camp in the Santa Catalina Mountains.
In 1987 Hirabayashi’s case was overturned. A federal commission determined that the internment had been motivated by racial prejudice and wartime hysteria. In 1988 the Civil Liberties Act was signed by President Ronald Reagan, which acknowledged the injustice and apologized for the internment.
In 1999 the Coronado National Forest renamed the site in honor of Dr. Hirabayashi and the other resisters of conscience who were imprisoned there. Dr. Hirabayashi and others attended the dedication ceremony.
The campground is ok, but attracts all kinds of people some more raucous than others. The hike from there is well worth doing, into sycamore canyon, though there are several other hiikes close by. Best used in early spring winter and late fall.
Very busy, couldn’t find a good spot.
Spent a couple of weeks here. It's a busier campground, as there is trailhead parking at the end of the campground, so expect lots of dust. However it sits away from the Highway so is a little quieter and has easy access to several hiking/mountain biking trails, horse trails, and a rock climbing area.
Easier to pull in with a tiny travel trailer than the Molino Canyon (Site space). Plus several of the sites are double - great for sharing a camp space with friends.