A drive towards the picturesque Lake Siskiyou takes you past an age-old testament to California’s commitment to aquatic conservation – the Mount Shasta Fish Hatchery. While many travelers may have unknowingly zipped past its entrance, this establishment boasts the title of the oldest operating fish hatchery west of the Mississippi.
A 150-Year History
Established as early as 1877 by Justin H. Sisson to attract patrons to his inn and tavern, the Mount Shasta Hatchery was acquired by the California Fish Commission in 1888. But with the construction of the Shasta Dam in 1938 blocking salmon routes, the hatchery pivoted to nurturing various species, including trout, catfish, and sturgeon, among others.
Globally recognized, the hatchery has supplied trout eggs to numerous countries like Mexico, New Zealand, and China, alongside various US states. Nowadays, these eggs are shipped in temperature-controlled Styrofoam containers. Before shipping, advanced machinery separates viable eggs from the dead ones, followed by meticulous manual checking to ensure the best quality.
Visiting the Hatchery Today
Spring visits offer an enchanting experience. With over 3 million baby trout flitting about in the facility’s pristine waters, visitors can relish the sight against the awe-inspiring backdrop of Mount Shasta. There’s also a dedicated picnic area to provide the perfect setting for a tranquil day out.
As these trout come of age, they grace the vast outdoor ponds of the hatchery. Interactive feeding sessions offer a hands-on experience, as fish food dispensers allow guests to witness the dynamic, swirling activity beneath the water’s surface. Such interactions not only thrill younger visitors but also educate them about the importance of aquatic conservation.
In its century-plus existence, the Mount Shasta Fish Hatchery has been more than just a fish-breeding facility. It stands as a symbol of the region’s rich history and its unwavering dedication to preserving aquatic life. As you chart your next journey to Lake Siskiyou, remember to carve out time for this invaluable piece of California’s heritage.
Here’s where the hatchery is located: