Construction of the Hunt Camp at Minidoka in the summer of 1942 was the Depression-ender for the Magic Valley. Masons, carpenters, and their helpers could earn $72 a week during construction. If they could find work at all during that time, $20 to $25 a week was the norm for those trades.
Morrison-Knudsen was the contractor at the camp. The payroll for the M-K workers rolled through the Magic Valley bringing the first taste of prosperity to bars, restaurants, and clothing stores they had experienced in years. People brought their rattle-trap cars in to trade up and made long-overdue improvements to their homes.
The workers often lived in shacks and used outhouses. They were heard to grumble about the lucky “Japs” for whom they were building communal kitchens, laundries and bathhouses—luxuries the workers didn’t enjoy. No doubt the families forced to move to the Idaho desert from Portland and Seattle considered none of it luxurious.
Much of the information contained in this post comes from History of Idaho, Volume2, Leonard J. Arrington, published by the University of Idaho Press and the Idaho State Historical Society in 1994.