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|STATE FISH-HATCHING ESTABLISHMENT
The fish law of the State of Iowa was passed by the Fifteenth General Assembly, and is entitled 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."
The law has been amended, some portions repealed, and other enactments added. Under the provisions of the first enactment, the Governor appointed as Commissioners Messrs. S. B. Evans, of Ottumwa; B. F. Shaw, of Anamosa, and Charles A. Haines, of Waterloo.
The Commissioners met at Des Moines May 10, 1874, and elected S. B. Evans, President; B. F. Shaw, Secretary and Superintendent, and C. A. Haines, Treasurer. They divided the State into three divisions, each to superintend a division, the better to enable them to more thoroughly superintend the erection and construction of fishways. The Board continued the work instructed to their hands until the law was so changed as to require the appointment of but one Commissioner, and B. F. Shaw was appointed State Fish Commissioner, and continues to act in said capacity. Under a resolution of the Board, Mr. Shaw was authorized to build a State Hatching House, and, as far as practicable, procure spawn of valuable fish adapted to the waters of the State of Iowa, and hatch and prepare them for distribution, and, as far as practicable, assist in putting them into the waters of the State.
In the summer of 1874, Mr. Shaw built for the State, two and a half miles west of Anamosa, and near the bank of the Wapsipinicon River, a State Hatching House. A tract of twenty acres of land was purchased for the State, of Col. W. T. Shaw, for $360. The building erected thereon is 20x40 feet, and two stories high. An excavation three and a half feet in depth, the full size of the building, was first made, and a good, substantial stone wall put in to this depth for a foundation. The building, a substantial frame, is high enough to allow an eleven-foot story below, and an eight and a half one above. The upper story is finished off, lathed and plastered, neatly and tastily furnished to accommodate the keeper's family. All the appointments of the building are first-class. The building is constructed with a direct reference to the attainment of as even a temperature as possible the year round. The interval between the studding is filled with sawdust, from sills to roof, securing warmth in winter and coolness in summer. The hatching-room, the lower story, is lined throughout with ship-lapped ceiling. Nine rows of zinc-lined hatching-troughs, 16 feet long, 1 foot wide and 4 inches deep, were firmly fixed on solid benches about one and a half feet from the ground. There are two sections of these troughs, the second section being six inches lower than the first, thus giving a break in the water flow, and more thoroughly aerating all its parts with needed fresh air for the remainder of the spawn and baby fish in the second section of the troughs. In these troughs is laid a bed of clean gravel, on which rests the fish spawn. This gravel is obtained at the river-bank near by, and the very coarse and fine portions sifted out. The medium-sized gravel thus obtained is boiled, and every particle of sediment removed, in order that the ova of insects and reptiles may not be introduced into the hatching-troughs.
The above-described hatching apparatus was used for a time, and worked admirably; but Mr. Shaw, who is thoroughly posted in the propagation of fish, invented an apparatus that proves to be much superior, and the capacity of the house increased thereby ten or twelve times, and a portion only of the zinc troughs are now used for nurseries for the baby fish.
Hatching is done from the 1st of November to the middle of March, and the distribution takes place when the fish are from six to fifteen weeks old. We visited the hatching-house during the month of September, and, consequently, no hatching was being done.
The spring from which the water is supplied is ten feet in diameter, and five feet deep. The water bubbles up from the bottom, and the supply in all seasons is more than sufficient for the capacity of the hatching-house.
In addition to the work of hatching and distributing, Mr. Shaw is cultivating a few thousand of different varieties for the purpose of practically demonstrating how they should be kept and handled by those who wish to succeed in fish culture. The water that passes through the hatching-house is utilized for the purpose, and two reservoirs and three small ponds are constructed, by means of which the fish of different ages are separated. The water is kept in each of these to the depth of two to three feet. The reservoirs are about 6x8 feet, and the ponds 25x30 feet. In the reservoirs, there are about seven thousand small fish less than a year old. They are principally salmon trout, brook trout, land-locked salmon and California salmon. In the ponds, the fish are of the same varieties, only larger and older. The salmon trout two years old are from ten to fifteen inches long, and weigh, on an average, about one pound. There are about three thousand of these. The largest fish is twenty-five and a half inches long, and weighs seven pounds. It is four years old. Mr. Shaw had a life-size painting of this fish, in oil, by Vanderpool, of Chicago, on exhibition at the late County Fair at Monticello. The fish is decidedly a beauty, and the painting a good one.
The fish are fed nothing but cooked food, and the cooking is all done by steam. The cookhouse, 14x16 feet, one story high, has been erected, and a steaming apparatus, invented by Mr. Shaw, constructed by Mr. Slocum, the keeper, therein. Here the food is cooked and chopped to different degrees of fineness, according to ages of the fish to be fed. The food consists, principally, of the liver and lights of the animals slaughtered at the various meat markets.
A good, substantial barn, with wagon-shed attached, for the use of the keeper, and also a good bank-cellar and woodhouse, have been constructed, at no expense to the State, except that of the materials used. At this season of the year, Mr. Slocum, the keeper, devotes his entire time to the clearing and improvement of the land belonging to the State.
Through the action of the Commissioners, there were distributed within the State, from May 10, 1874, to May 10, 1875, 100,000 shad, 300,000 California salmon, 10,000 bass, 80,000 Penobscot salmon, 5,000 land-locked salmon, 20,000 other kinds.
The following is the summary for 1876 and 1877:
The following is the summary of the distribution made during the years 1878 and 1879, up to the 1st of September, 1879.
It is expected to hatch this season about the same number of eggs as were hatched last season.
We are glad to state that the books and reports of Mr. Shaw are so kept that the condition of the business may be easily know at any time. Mr. Slocum, under the tutorage of the Superintendent, has acquired a thorough knowledge of the duties of keeper, and performs his duties with fidelity.
We have made careful examination of the condition of this State establishment, and we are glad to state that we feel confident that the Governor has appointed the right man to the right place in the appointment of the Hon. B. F. Shaw, State Fish Commissioner. It is more usual than it ought to be that such offices are held for the emoluments alone, but Mr. Shaw is not only competent, but likewise an enthusiast in the matter of fish culture, and he brings to his work an energy and perseverance that is worthy and commendable. We state the above as a just testimonial to the ability and the faithful performance of incumbent duties by the public official.
In the year 1877, Mr. Shaw invented a plan for a fish-way in streams where dams are necessary to utilize water privileges, which is decidedly unique and promises to be largely adopted by Fish Commissioners, and extensively used throughout the country. Several of them are now in use in this State. At a meeting of the Fish Commissioners of the State of Michigan, in the same year in which the plan was invented, for the purpose of securing the most approved and practical fish-way, for use in the streams of that State, Mr. Shaw's plan was exhibited among the many others from different States, as well as a number from England and the continent, and was unanimously adopted as the one most practical.
The Fish Commissioners of the State of Minnesota have also adopted the Shaw plan for fish-ways in the steams of that State. A thousand or more of lithographic representation of the plan have been printed for free distribution, that the plan may be known, without cost, to those wishing to use fishways.
On this, as well as on numerous of other inventions in connection with fish-hatching and fish-culture, Mr. Shaw has asked for no letters patent. As has been said, he is an enthusiast in the matter of fish-culture, and the results of his experience he freely gives, that others may be benefited thereby.
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