Photo from Bob Martin/Dick Perue collection. Courtesy of Dick Perue, Historical Reproductions by Perue.
World War II prisoners at Ryan Park were loaded into trucks and transported to their assigned areas of work.
Manpower shortages during World War II led to establishment of a prison of war camp at Ryan Park, in the Medicine Bow mountains of southern Wyoming. The compound housed Italian, German and Austrian prisoners from 1943 until 1945.
History of the POW camp is the subject of a Feb. 16, at 7 p.m. presentation in the Saratoga Branch Library at 503 West Elm Ave. This intriguing history of both the POW compound and its predecessor, a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp, will be related during a slide show which is free and open to the public.
Photos, accounts, newspaper articles and interviews are featured in a four-page booklet available to attendees.
Research shows prisoners were brought to Ryan Park at the instigation of lumberman R. R. Crow who needed men to harvest timber from the Medicine Bow National Forest.
The Oct. 28, 1943, issue of The Saratoga Sun reported, "A caravan of more than a dozen buses carrying Italian prisoners of war and their guards passed through Saratoga Sunday, en route to Ryan Park, where the prisoners are now employed by R. R. Crow & Co., in timber operations there."
The 114 prisoners were guarded by 40 Army guards and housed at the former Ryan Park CCC camp. A month later another 50 prisoners arrived, the Sun reports.
"Although interned behind barbed wire fences at the Ryan Park compound, the Italian and German soldiers created beautiful gardens, played classical music, and made intricate wood carvings, as well as toiled in the timber," Meryle Hansen, who worked with the prisoners, recalls in an 1988