SPEARFISH, S.D. — Established in 1896, the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery is one of the nations oldest hatcheries and is celebrating its 125th birthday this year.
Formerly the Spearfish National Fish Hatchery, it gained it’s name from it’s first superintendent – D.C. Booth – who, along with his wife, Ruby, was a fixture in the Spearfish community.
In the 80’s, the Booth home and original hatchery were converted to a museum and restored to become a national historical hatchery.
It is now home to the largest collection of fishery artifacts in the country and a popular tourist destination.
“We have about 180,000 visitors each year that come to our free family attraction,” said Karen Holzer, Executive Director of the Booth Society, Inc.
Along with it’s service to the community as a museum, it remains an active hatchery.
“The hatchery has remained an active hatchery. We grow fish, trout, from fingerling size to stocking size, about eight to ten inches. And, they are are stocked with BIA,” Holzer said. “Bureau of Indian Affairs contracts on Indian reservations in North and South Dakota, and Montana. And we also stock on the Ellsworth Air Force Base fishing pond.”
To celebrate it’s 125 years, the hatchery will be hosting events through the summer.
Over the weekend, that included a cooking class by chef’s from Nonna’s Kitchen in Spearfish, as well as live music, and guest artist Jim Maher.
Maher is the creator of the popular generations and spring stocking sculptures at the hatchery.
And while proud they have remained staples since they were created in 1996 and 2000, they hold a special place in his heart as some of his first works – and reminders of his family.
“My dad and my oldest daughter were the models for this generations piece. So, that was pretty special that way, it meant a lot to my dad, well to my family really, especially,” Maher said. “And then when it came time to do the spring stocking piece, we needed a worker to be in the water, and that, I used my brother for that because he is actually an aquaculture guy, a fish guy up in Minnesota. It’s kinda fun to have family as the models for these, for a lot of these.”
The hatchery is open daily to the public and will host various events through September.