ISU Headlines

Natural history museum exhibit celebrates 100 years of Idaho fish hatcheries

Posted October 19, 2007

The Idaho Museum of Natural History (IMNH) opened its newest exhibit, “A Century of Fish Hatcheries,” with a ribbon cutting with the Pocatello Chiefs on Oct. 24. IMNH also offered free admission to the museum that day.

“A Century of Fish Hatcheries,” on loan from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) where it was created by Mick Hoover and Sharon Clark, celebrates the 100th anniversary of the legislative act that created the first state fish hatchery.

Sharon Clark, a technical records specialist, has been with IDFG for 20 years, all at the headquarters, Fisheries Bureau in Boise. She primarily works with grants in the fisheries program, specialized permitting processes, and fisheries-related harvest and angler opinion surveys. Clark became interested in Fish and Game history when early in her career she inherited 100-year-old hand-written fish stocking records and reports of the Department.

Mick Hoover has worked at the Mackay State Fish Hatchery for the past 17 years. He is responsible for rearing resident trout and salmon for statewide distribution in lakes, reservoirs, and streams. He is also the staff writer of “Blast From the Past,” a featured story in the quarterly Fish and Game News. Because the Mackay Hatchery was built in 1925 many historical items remained. Hoover saw the potential for creating an historical display at the hatchery, however he was missing a vintage embossed Fish and Game milk can used for fish transportation.

This pursuit, combined with a personal interest in history, led Hoover to begin collecting vintage Fish and Game artifacts, equipment, and documents. This has grown into an extensive collection which is used to provide public exhibits and education regarding the first 100 years of state fish hatcheries. Hoover and Clark have been developing and expanding the collection for the past five years and have plans to include other programs in future historical exhibitions and presentations.

A special feature of the exhibit that will only be on display for opening day is a restored 1957 Chevrolet half-ton truck which was purchased new by Idaho Fish and Game and assigned to the Sandpoint and Hagerman hatcheries. It was used to stock fish, as a feed truck, and had a fish pump mounted on the rear to load the large fish tankers. In 2002, the Dehryl A. Dennis Professional-Technical Education Center (PTEC) in Boise restored the exterior of the truck as a student project with no expense to IDFG. Mounted in the back of the truck is a restored 1940s-era fish tank recovered from a ranch near the Mackay State Fish Hatchery. It is most likely the Department’s first slide-in pick up fish tank.

Also featured in the Fish and Game exhibit is historical aquaculture equipment which was designed and built out of necessity at the fish hatcheries. This equipment and historical photographs chronicle the 100-year-old practices and techniques used for spawning and egg collection, egg care until hatching, transportation of fish eggs, fish feeding and diet development, and the eventual planting of mature fish via horseback, backpack, truck, boat, airplane, and helicopter with a collection of equipment and historical photographs. The exhibit will also include a 1968 Salem Boat Works wooden drift boat and homemade trailer.

For more information, contact Teresa Nelson at the Idaho Museum of Natural History at (208) 282-2603 or nelstere@isu.edu.