Last weekend we celebrated the hatchery’s birthday. Congress established it on July 12, 1888, so yesterday was our actual 130th milestone.

Last weekend we celebrated the hatchery’s birthday. Congress established it on July 12, 1888, so yesterday was our actual 130th milestone.
The Friends of the Neosho National Fish Hatchery put on a wonderful event, and almost 200 people came and took part. With three decorated cakes to enjoy and other snacks, guests could proceed into our art gallery where five local artists displayed their works. Thanks to the Neosho Arts Council for the use of their easels and their support. Images included scenes of Neosho past and present, with some representing the hatchery nicely. The gift shop also had a good crowd milling through to see the many local wares for sale.
Unfortunately, our grounds were not up to the same bar of excellence as inside the visitor center. Since May we have been mostly dry in the raceways and ponds, so the many people that came through saw lots of “empty” this and that. The latest news regarding our repairs is that everything is going well and on schedule.
It is puzzling to hear all sorts of speculation as to why we are empty. We get asked if the flooding from last year caused the damage (no) or if the new ponds were defective and having leaks (No) or if we’re closing down the hatchery (NO!). Again, the repairs were needed because of a serious leak in the bottom of our mixing box. This is the structure that combines all the water from our four source springs and where it gets oxygenated it before distributing it to our raceways and ponds. To fix it we had to shut down our spring flow in order to access that area, we poured a new box, put in brand new valves and access panels, and are in the home stretch for getting it back on line. It will still be another few weeks until the water gets turned back on, but we want it to be completely ready for the next decades of uninterrupted service. Again, while it is not unusual to have our ponds drained during the summer heat, we are as anxious as our visitors to get everything flowing back like normal.
In the next few weeks we will also be having some new faces at the hatchery. Two years after Rod May assumed the helm of this ship, we are finally getting an assistant manager again, as well as two new fish biologists. Just in time for the water to flow again!