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State Park Sunday:Angel Island State Park

September 12th, 2009 by bsmith | Filed under State Park Sundays, Uncategorized.

As a rule, I like to include pictures in these State Park Sunday posts.   Because I haven’t been to Angel Island since I  was about 10 years old I have none to share.  I can’t say that at the time it made a great impression on me.  I remember feeling privileged to see a Century Plant in bloom.  (Now I know that it does bloom more than once a century!)

A little later, however, I had a chance to learn more about the rich and tragic history of this state park.  Now I think  it is one of California’s most important state park treasures.  I was glad to hear that the federal government was considering transitioning this to a national park in case Angel Island was on the state park closure list.

This park is often called “Ellis Island of the West”.  However, unlike Ellis Island who welcomed most immigrants to U.S. shores this park was something more sinister.  As I did some background research on the Chinese immigrant experience for an ESL lesson on the book Dragon’s Gate by Laurence Yep, I discovered that Chinese immigrants were detained on Angel Island for many months, even years.

This island was also a temporary home for Japanese and German prisoners of war.  In the 1920′s it housed Japanese picture brides.

Immigration fascinates me.  My Irish ancestors arrived at Ellis Island at the turn of the century then made their way to California.  I want my children to understand their ancestor’s immigrant experience, learn more about how other immigrants have been treated by our country in the past, and show compassion towards the modern immigrants who live among us.  Hopefully, when we are ready to make the trip to Angel Island State Park, it will be open and ready to receive us!

Happy Trails,


P.S.  I’m digging this cross cultural adventure out of the archives to share with my friends  at Trekaroo for  Spotlight Thursday.  Stop by for more great adventures with kids from across the country.

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