The Von Bayer Museum of Fish Culture was created to preserve the vibrant history and rich heritage of the American fisheries workers. The US Fish and Wildlife Service collects and preserves the historic objects from hatcheries throughout the country making them accessible to researchers and the public. In addition to collecting artifacts, interpretation of the history and technology of fish culture will enrich the experience of the greater community. By utilizing the museum collection, we hope to increase the awareness of the various roles and the inestimable value of fish culture and fisheries in everyday life. This includes the contributions of fish culture to the recreational and social well-being of the people of the United States and the world.

The museum facility is made up of the historic 1899 Hatchery Building housing the museum.

The 10,000 square foot Collection Management Facility (CMF) built in 1989 houses the archives.

The CMF includes:

  • 5,000 square foot storage area
  • conservation lab
  • accession and receiving area
  • walk-in freezer
  • Fish and Wildlife Service Offices

These buildings provide for the use and preservation of the museum collections for future generations to enjoy and study.

The museum collection includes fish management and culture items and equipment, periodicals, publications and personal artifacts. The collection contains over 185,000 items and is the largest collection of fisheries artifacts in the country, some of which are on display in the museum. The museum is open daily during the summer season. The collection management facility is open only by appointment.


The Neo-Colonial Revival Booth House, built for the first superintendant in 1905, is open for tours to visitors who would like to learn about the history of the house and the families that lived and worked at the hatchery.

The home was first constructed to provide modern, comfortable living quarters for Dewitt Clinton Booth and his family. The large, wood frame dwelling has a masonry foundation of rusticated sandstone. The Booth House features two expansive porches with classical columns, huge oval windows, a bay window, and a rear balcony. Generally unaltered from historic times, the interior is anointed with period furnishings and Booth Family memorabilia.


Before the invention of refrigerated tanker trucks, fish hatcheries were faced with the problem of how to quickly move fish from hatcheries to lakes and rivers around the country.

During the Fish Car Era, ten specifically designed railcars were constructed; and by 1920, fish cars had carried over 72 billion fish across 2 million miles of railroad track. D.C. Booth displays the only federal fisheries railcar exhibit in the country, showcasing a replica of Fish Car No. 3. Visitors to this unique and beautifully-restored railcar will learn about the history of the Fish Car Era, a 66-year period that played a key role in fisheries propagation.

The Ice House is a replica of the 1899 original. Blocks of ice were cut from the ponds in the winter and stored in the ice house for use in summer transportation of the fish and eggs. Today, the Fish Culture Section of the American Fisheries Society (link) uses the Ice House as the permanent location of the Fish Culture Hall of Fame and honors those who advanced the science of aquaculture. The Ice House also contains education information on fish and fish mount replicas.


U.S. Fisheries Boat #39, a wooden Great Lakes-style cabin cruiser, tells the story of early hatchery workers who went on expeditions to Yellowstone National Park to collect trout eggs. In 1901, the Spearfish National Fish Hatchery began to operate an egg-gathering substation in Yellowstone National Park. Located on the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake, the substation was mainly responsible for the collection of black-spotted trout eggs and their subsequent shipment to Spearfish for hatching and later distribution to other areas.

Since direct railroad service did not exist between Spearfish and Yellowstone Lake, an overland expedition was undertaken each year to gather the eggs and return them to Spearfish. The expedition usually left Spearfish in June, traveling by rail as far as possible. The last portion of the journey was made by wagon. The wagons were piled high with boats, nets, troughs, and other equipment. The annual Yellowstone expeditions were conducted from 1901-1911.

The Yellowstone Boat was restored and is now on display at the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery.


Spanning 10 acres, the entire hatchery site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Ponds, rock walls, water systems and buildings contribute to the site’s historic significance. Although many alterations have been made on the site over the years, each change tells a story about hatchery operations.

Two life size bronze sculptures can be seen on the hatchery grounds. The Spring Stocking Pond sculpture depicts the lives of early fisheries workers. The Generations sculpture showcases the important role that fishing plays in American tradition and culture today. The bronze was completed in 1996 to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the hatchery.

Two hiking trails outline the boundaries of the hatchery site and serve as firebreaks. The trails offer scenic overlooks of the grounds and take you to historic sites such as reservoirs and the mort pit.

The Pond Gift Shop offers fishfood, nature and history books, nature and wildlife toys, gifts, and hatchery souvenirs. Visit the Shop for information about area attractions and the history of the hatchery.


Visitors can get up close and personal with brown and rainbow trout by feeding them from above or watching them through the underwater viewing windows. Visitors can feed the fish 365 days a year, as the grounds are open from dawn to dusk.


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