Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Booth Fish Hatchery in Spearfish, SD

During the late 1800's, there was a strong interest in rearing trout for the area around the Black Hills and the mountains in the Yellowstone area. As a result, a fish hatchery was established in Spearfish, SD in 1895, making the hatchery one of the oldest in the country.

The first director of the hatchery was D. C. Booth, who was instrumental in its success. Today, the hatchery is a great attraction and a beautiful place to see the many trout being raised as well as the museum featuring the early years of the hatchery.
Rick loved the hatchery, which is not surprising since he also loves to fly fish. Unfortunately, that was out of the question while in the hatchery area (rats!)

Wow -- talk about a lot of trout! It was lots of fun to see these fish swarm in the clod, clear pools. There is also food available for you to feed them and watch as they attack to get it. Obviously, they are used to getting fed!

While most of the trout were being raised for release, there was also the trophy pond where some huge  trout were swimming around. Some of these were well over 30" long and easily the biggest trout Rick had ever seen. But, the no fishing sign means Rick can only watch!

After seeing the trout ponds, we walked through the beautiful grounds to the historic area. Here, Orinda pauses near the original hatchery fish runs, which are no longer in use.

The original hatchery building is now a very interesting museum which shows how the hatchery operated back in the day. The building also served as a house for Director Booth and his family. We were interested in learning that Booth, his wife and children lived in a couple rooms above this working area until their new home was completed.

Originally, fish were transported in milk cans like these by wagon, boat or rail car. These cans were used to carry fish in the Fish Railroad Cars.

Today, we were able to tour one of the original hatchery rail cars that have been restored to the appearance of the original cars. These were revolutionary and carried ice to keep the fish in good condition.

We need to recall that back in the early 1900's, roads really did not exist in the west and the railroad made for a great way to travel -- for people and for fish! The "Fish Car" was a mobile life support system for thousands of fish and a crew of four or so hatchery workers. The railcar has been lovingly restored and was fun to tour.

In 1905, this house was finished for the Director and his family. Now over 100 years old, this house had all the modern features such as indoor plumbing, electricity, and steam heat.

The house has been carefully restored and is beautiful. We decided that this would have been a great place to live back then -- and for that matter, right now. Rick especially loved the wonderful woodwork in the house as well as the furniture from the period.

We had a great visit to the D.C. Booth Hatchery and would strongly recommend it if you are in the Black Hills area. Here, the trout gave us a sendoff as we crossed the footbridge back to the parking lot -- great visit!

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