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The State of Iowa
Fish Hatching Establishment
The Fifteenth General Assembly, in 1874, passed "An act to provide for the appointment of a Board of Fish Commissioners for the construction of Fishways for the protection and propagation of Fish," also "An act to provide for furnishing the rivers and lakes with fish and fish spawn." This act appropriated $3,000 for the purpose. In accordance with the provisions of the first act above mentioned, on the 9th of April, 1874, S. B. Evans of Ottumwa, Wapello County; B. F. Shaw of Jones County, and Charles A. Haines, of Black Hawk County, were appointed to be Fish Commissioners by the Governor. These Commissioners met at Des Moines, May 10, 1874, and organized by the election of Mr. Evans, President; Mr. Shaw, Secretary and Superintendent, and Mr. Haines, Treasurer.
The State was partitioned into three districts or divisions to enable the Commissioners to better superintend the construction of fishways as required by law. That part of the State lying south of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad was placed under the especial supervision of Mr. Evans; that part between that railroad and the Iowa Division of the Illinois Central Railroad, Mr. Shaw, and all north of the Illinois Central Railroad, Mr. Haines. At this meeting, the Superintendent was authorized to build a State Hatching House; to procure the spawn of valuable fish adapted to the waters of Iowa; hatch and prepare the young fish for distribution, and assist in putting them into the waters of the State.
In compliance with these instructions, Mr. Shaw at once commenced work, and in the Summer of 1874, erected a "State Hatching House" near Anamosa, 20x40 feet, two stories; the second story being designed for a tenement; the first story being the "hatching room." The hatching troughs are supplied with water from a magnificent spring four feet deep and about ten feet in diameter, affording an abundant and unfailing supply of pure running running water. During the first year, from May 10, 1874, to May 10, 1875, the Commissioners distributed within the State 100,000 Shad, 300,000 California Salmon, 10,000 Bass, 80,000 Penobscot (Maine) Salmon, 5,000 land-locked Salmon, 20,000 of other species.
By act approved March 10, 1876, the law was amended so that there should be but one instead of three Fish Commissioners, and B. F. Shaw was appointed, and the Commissioner was authorized to purchase twenty acres of land, on which the State Hatching House was located near Anamosa.
In the Fall of 1876, Commissioner Shaw gathered from the sloughs of the Mississippi, where they would have been destroyed, over a million and a half of small fish, which were distributed in the various rivers of the State and turned into the Mississippi.
In 1875-6, 533,000 California Salmon, and in 1877, 303,500 Lake Trout were distributed in various rivers and lakes in the State. The experiment of stocking the small streams with brook trout is being tried, and 81,000 of the speckled beauties were distributed in 1877. In 1876, 100,000 young eels were distributed. These came from New York and they are increasing rapidly.
At the close of 1877, there were at least a dozen private fish farms in successful operation in various parts of the State. Commissioner Shaw is enthusiastically devoted to the duties of his office and has performed an important service for the people of the State by his intelligent and successful operations.
The Sixteenth General Assembly passed an act in 1878, prohibiting the catching of any kind of fish except Brook Trout from March until June of each year. Some varieties are fit for food only during this period.
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