Large crowd shows for presentation on former Weiser labor camp

Organizers held a presentation on the former Weiser Labor Camp on Saturday, the event drawing about 50 people, some who lived in the camp, which was located where an onion packing company facility now stands. Above, Ana Marie Nevarez-Schachtell, left, and Kathleen Hodges, right, address the crowd. Courtesy Photo
Philip A. Janquart
It couldn’t have gone better for organizers of the Weiser Labor Camp presentation held Saturday, July 22.
 Held at the Weiser Train Depot, the presentation aimed to give an historical perspective on the camp, which existed from 1943 to 2003. The camp, which was government funded, switched locations early on, but was permanently moved to the current site of an onion packing facility, located at 734 W. Idaho St., in 1959.
 The site was purchased and transformed into Haun Packing until it was sold about a year ago to another packing company.
 Still on site is a blue-colored building on the property’s west end that was once a part of the camp.
 About 50 people showed up to hear more of the camp’s history, including some that lived there when it was still in operation. Part of the presentation consisted of stories shared by those former tenants, some of them who arrived by train from Mexico to work in area crop fields.
 “I hate to brag, but it was great!” said Kathleen Hodges, a retired Idaho State Historical Society historian who still conducts freelance and research projects such as Saturday’s event.
 “I was really excited by the number of people that showed up and who they were,” she said. “We had Betty Soliz who I interviewed for the project early on. She was born in Weiser and lived in the camp.”
 She added that another family, the Fuentes’, attended the presentation, including one family member who even flew in from Texas to take part.
 “I was just floored and so honored,” Hodges said. “When I think about it, there were various people in Weiser that lived there and are still around; a lot of them spent time there when they were kids and so it was like having a big family reunion.”
 A Boise television news channel, KTVB Channel 7, was there and put together a story for their evening broadcast. You can view the broadcast by visiting


Signal American

18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
PH: (208) 549-1717
FAX: (208) 549-1718

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