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James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.



Basic Information

Type of Place
Independent City or Town
Metro Area
Politics c. 1860?
Unions, Organized Labor?

Sundown Town Status

Sundown Town in the Past?
Was there an ordinance?
Don't Know
Don’t Know
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1930 1159 8
1940 1490 13
1950 2891 1
1960 2875 0 32
1970 3498 0 59
1980 3333 5 120
1990 3226 8
2000 3575 3025 7 45 73 621 232

Method of Exclusion

  • Private Bad Behavior

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • Unknown

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black


“The town’s large employers, especially
government agencies and utilities operating in the
area like Southern California Edison, the U.S. Forest
Service, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and
Power would occasionally try to transfer families of
color into town. They never lasted; within six months
to a year, they’d moved on. Given the remoteness of
the town (when I was growing up there, we had the
only stoplight for 140 miles in any direction), it’s not
surprising that I was 16 years old before I ever talked
to a person with black skin.
“One day when I was in my teens [circa 1974], my
father told me that the whiteness of the place was one
reason he’d brought the family there. He went on to
say that there were men in town who considered it
their duty to ‘quietly encourage’ any black folks to
move right on through if they looked like they might
consider settling. This was my first introduction to the
idea of sundown towns and to the notion that my
hometown was white by design, not chance. Other
adults told me that we didn’t have any black residents
because ‘they don’t like the cold.’ (‘But there are big
black neighborhoods in New York and Chicago…’ I
remember thinking.)
“In recent years, the state has suggested putting
a prison in Bishop. Due to its remote location and low
cost of living, it would make some bureaucratic sense.
But the local folks have defeated the proposal every
time it’s come up. While I tend to agree that the last
thing the town needs is a prison, those against tend to
express their opposition in terms of veiled racism:
they don’t like the idea that the government will
import black people (and their families, who might
follow) into town in large numbers. ‘They might stay,
and we won’t be able to get them to move on’ is a
common argument.”
-former resident of Bishop