Manzanar was home to Owens Valley Paiute going back three thousand years.
They built an irrigation systems and farmed native plants for food.
In 1860s, gold and silver mining began in the Sierras and Inyo mountains. Then Ranchers and Farmers moved in to support the mines and forced out the Paiute Indians. Manzanar was a productive farming community, a narrow gauge railroad was built. In the 1900s Los Angeles bought most of the water rights and began diverting water to Los Angeles via a 200 plus mile aqueduct in 1913.
In 1941 U.S. enters the World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor. February 19, 1942 President F.D Roosevelt uprooted Japanese Americans and interned them. Manzanar. was one of ten camps and housed 11,070 Japanese Americans between 3/1942 and 11/1945.
At the end of the war in 1945, the camp closed, many of the buildings were dismantled and wood recycled (I believe my nearby cabin may have some of the wood). The only remaining building was the Auditorium, later used as highway maintenance yard. Today the site is a National Historic Site, the auditorium has been converted to a visitor center and museum. The museum is a historical collection of the interment with stories of life at the camp and artifacts during those years. It is a must see stop when traveling on highway 395.