Crawford Fish Hatchery

March 25, 2017 daryl bauer

Seems as though I heard something about 2017 being the 150th anniversary of Nebraska statehood.  Along those lines our TV, radio and video guy here at Game & Parks, Ralph Wall, has been putting together some short videos looking back at the history of the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission.

Did you know we used to have a fish hatchery at Crawford?

Let me put a personal spin on this again here in my blog. . . .

I started my academic career as a kindergartner in Rural District 42 north of Alliance.  Yes, just a few miles north of what is now known as “Carhenge”.  I believe that first year of school I may have got out a day or two earlier than the other kids, so I could attend our branding, but I remember being included in the school field trip that spring.  We all loaded up on a passenger train at the Alliance depot and road the rails up through the Pine Ridge to Crawford.  To this day that remains as the only time I have been on a train.  We traveled through tunnels on that trip; who knew there were railroad tunnels in Nebraska?????

Anyway, it was a long time ago, but I remember we all had a picnic in the Crawford City Park before car-pooling home to Alliance (guarantee none of us used any seat belts back then).  I do not recall if we toured the Crawford Fish Hatchery as part of that field trip, but I certainly remember that fish hatchery.  I remember touring it at other times.  Back at that time, there were some large brood stock trout held at the Crawford Fish Hatchery, big fish from which the eggs were taken to produce small trout to stock.  So, when you walked around the ponds at the Crawford Fish Hatchery, they were not all teeming with small trout, some of the hatchery ponds had at least what seemed to me at the time, to be HUGE trout!

I never forget a big fish.

I will add one other comment to the events recounted in the video.  Yes, a devastating flood eventually closed the book on the Crawford Fish Hatchery, but I always say that it took not one, but two “acts of God” to close that hatchery.  The flooding that eventually closed the hatchery was made much worse by extensive wildfires that burned in the White River drainage weeks before.  When the big thunderstorm then dropped all of that rain, there was no ground cover to soak up the water–it all ran off and carried a tremendous load of ash and debris left from the fire.  One catastrophe by itself probably would not have been enough to bring the end to the Crawford Fish Hatchery, but the two together spelled its doom.

You may notice mention of the “trout stamp” in the video.  We phased out the trout stamp in 1997 with the creation of the Aquatic Habitat Stamp.  In fact, now we do not sell a separate Aquatic Habitat Stamp as that designated money is just included in the cost of a fishing permit.

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