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Postcard from the Past - Fish Hatchery Opens in 1915

Written by Dick Perue

A recent article in Saratoga's local newspaper notes, “The Saratoga National Fish Hatchery is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

“The hatchery just north of the town of Saratoga is a broodstock station for Lake and Brown trout, as well as the endangered Wyoming toad.

“It was established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and opened on July 3, 1915.

“Eggs from the hatchery are sent to more than 50 tribal, local and state governments, other federal agencies and foreign nations to conserve fisheries.”

An open house was held at the hatchery over the Fourth of July weekend.

The hatchery was touted in a 1919 brochure as thus:

“The Federal Fisheries Station at Saratoga, although in operation for only three years, is now one of the largest in the West, and it is continually undergoing improvement and enlargement, being destined to become one of the largest and most important plants of the kind in the entire country. Many millions of trout have been propagated at the hatchery during the last three seasons, and its rapid progress and successful work may be largely attributed to the fact that one of Uncle Sam’s most capable and energetic fish culturists was placed here to have complete charge of the establishment.

“The first appropriation for the station was made available in 1915, and the construction was begun in March of that year. So rapidly did the work go forward that during the season of 1916, 1,250,000 fry were hatched at the plant, almost reaching the total capacity as at first planned. During the 1918 season, about 3,000,000 trout were hatched and distributed, and Superintendent Baldwin has added improvements during the past year, which will enable him to have a still greater output the coming year.

“The idea in the placing of a federal hatchery here is to supply the demand throughout Wyoming, and it will be enlarged and its scope increased proportionately with the demand for game fish for planting.

“Superintendent Baldwin, besides operating the Saratoga hatchery, is also in charge during the summer season of the government’s big station at Yellowstone Lake, in the Yellowstone National Park, where each year a large force of men is employed in gathering great numbers of eggs from the trout of that region, mostly of the black-spotted variety, for distribution to hatcheries in various parts of the country. A large number of these black-spotted beauties, which grow to enormous size, many having been taken which weighed from 16 to 18 pounds, will be hatched at the Saratoga plant the coming year and distributed in local waters. The 1919 output here will also include a million or more Brook trout, several million Rainbow, besides large numbers of Steel-Head, Natives and other varieties.

“The Fisheries Station at Saratoga has become one of the show places of this section, and no visitor should leave the valley without making a visit to the plant. The Superintendent will be found a most genial and accommodating host, and the short time required for an inspection of the hatchery will be found to have been most profitably spent.”