Thursday, April 7, 2016

Gretna Fish Hatchery

In 1877, 10 years after statehood, U.S. Senator Algernon Paddock of Nebraska published an article advocating the stocking of Nebraska's waters with, among other species, salmon and shad. "Fish food in abundance," wrote the senator, "would be one of the most valuable acquisitions our people could make. It is demanded by considerations of health, as well as of economy. A partial fresh fish diet is absolutely essential, everywhere, to good health. I believe this is true, particularly of a country so far inland as ours."

Two years later, the Nebraska Legislature established the Board of Fish Commissioners. One of its first actions was to contract with a privately-owned fish hatchery on the Platte River between Gretna and Louisville. Three years after that, the state purchased the hatchery outright.

The original hatchery building has been replaced twice, with this third incarnation dating to 1914. No longer an active hatchery, the building now houses a fisheries museum (with very limited hours) and is maintained by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission—successor to the Board of Fish Commissioners—as part of Schramm Park State Recreational Area.

The artificial ponds surrounding the hatchery are now home to carp, muskrats, and various tame (not to say spoiled) waterfowl.

The reason the hatchery was sited here in the first place is that there are springs in the hills overlooking the Platte. These feed the "canyon ponds" above the hatchery building, home to koi and rainbow trout.

Being fairly close to Lincoln, this makes for a nice afternoon getaway. Here are some random photos from a couple of recent visits.

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