Mt. Shasta Fish Hatchery and Museum
04/01/2007 02:02PM ● Published by Brandi Barnett
Fish StoryApril 2007
By Gary Van De Walker
A ripple of silver pours over the pond as our shadows touch the water. My son points to the sea
of fish. “That’s George,” he says. Last year, the mount Shasta Fish Hatchery produced almost four million trout. i hope he doesn’t name them all.
We walk between the large open ponds of rainbow trout, throwing handfuls of fish food, creating a frenzied attack by hundreds of hungry fish. a small hand searches my pocket looking for more change to buy more food from the red machines.
The Fish Hatchery and the Sisson museum are regular family haunts. The two are separate entities sharing the same grounds. Founded in 1888, the hatchery is the second oldest hatchery in the nation and the oldest in the west. Over 5,000 brood stock provide fish for over 250 Northern Californian lakes, which are stocked by truck and air. Buildings and ponds contain eggs, fingerlings and brood stock giving visitors a living illustration of the life cycle of trout.
Built in 1906, the museum building was the main workhorse of the hatchery until its retirement
in 1978. Since 1983, a local group leases the building, raises funds, and operates the Sisson museum, hosting over 9,000 visitors each year.
as we enter the museum, a trout model swims through the air in an antique aquarium at the command of a hidden switch. my eyes catch the miniature fire engine, the ride of former mount Shasta Fire Chief Frank melo.
Behind me my son peers through the macroscope display, the museum guide instructs him on the instrument’s use. The images of a butterfly wing, penny, and stamp loom up into his vision.
The docent points me to the newly acquired angler’s display donated by local fisherman Bill
Schinski. The display of rods, reels, creel and flies show the history of fishing in Siskiyou County, outlining the progression of the county’s number one recreational sport. a mural of the Sacramento River fills the wall in the exhibit, guiding guests through the flora and fauna of the Sacramento River ecosystem.
Laughter and trains echo from the next room of exhibits. Children push buttons as the Southern Pacific trains roar to life over the model of the mount Shasta rail yards. Behind them, i peruse the Cave and Cavers exhibit commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Shasta area Grotto organization.
executive Director Wanda Wellborn speaks with enthusiasm of the museum’s activities and
volunteers. “The best kept secret of the museum is the docents. They provide great anecdotes and experiences for our visitors
in addition to displays, the museum hosts numerous shows. “The Faces of China” will feature the photography of late area photographer Neil Evans may 28 through June 9. The annual quilt show runs July 2 through July 19. The Siskiyou artist Group chose the museum for their 50th annual show, august 20 to September 7. admission to the hatchery and museum is free.
As i guide my son to the picnic area for lunch, he throws one last handful of food into the water.
He takes my hand and looks at the fish, saying, “Hey, there’s George. Or is that his brother Steve?”