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D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives

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Spearfish Fisheries Center; Spearfish National Fish Hatchery
1899–1930s. 423 Hatchery Circle.
  • Hatchery Building, now Von Bayer Museum of Fish Culture (Photograph by Michelle Dennis)
  • Hatchery Building, now Von Bayer Museum of Fish Culture (Photograph by Michelle Dennis)
  • Booth Residence (Photograph by Michelle Dennis)
  • Fisheries Railroad Car (Photograph by Michelle Dennis)

The D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery is situated along Spearfish Creek at the south end of Spearfish. Under the scope of the National Fish Hatchery System, this facility was established in 1896 with the purpose of creating populations of trout in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming.

The main hatchery building, which measures 30 x 66 feet, features a square corner tower with a pyramidal roof. The foundation is of rusticated sandstone, the first story is clapboarded, and the tower’s second story and the building’s gable end are clad in cedar shingle. It contained an office and reception area, boiler room, storage, and a hatching room with 48 hatching troughs fitted with trays capable of handling 2 million trout eggs. Raceways and ponds are located on an adjacent slope. The earliest eight ponds had native pine planted on the sides and earth-filled bottoms. More ponds were established in 1900, some lined with cypress, others merely excavated, and others excavated with limestone walls. Additional ponds built in 1914 were constructed of cement with earth bottoms. Other structures on the grounds included an ice house (1899) and barn.

Dewitt Clinton Booth, who moved to Spearfish in 1899, was the first superintendent at the hatchery and managed the facility for thirty-four years. The first trout were released in April 1900 and Booth continued to improve the hatchery with the construction of storm channels and bulkheads. Booth’s residence, built in 1905, is on the south end of the property. The two-and-a-half-story Colonial Revival structure features two porches, a bay window, oval windows, and a rear balcony.

In the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration made several improvements, including replacing seventeen ponds with five large rearing ponds, building four concrete and stone raceways, and also constructing a staff residence (1939). Due to budgetary concerns, the hatchery closed in 1983. It is still owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which renovated the facility in 1995 to serve as a museum and archive. A 10,000-square-foot Collection Management Facility, built in 1989, houses the archives, a conservation lab, and administrative offices. The hatchery building is now the Von Bayer Museum of Fish Culture, where the items on display form part of the country’s largest collection of fisheries artifacts. A 1910 fisheries railroad car, which transported trout eggs in a refrigerated environment, has also been restored and is open to the public for tours. A replica of the 1899 ice house now contains the Fish Culture Hall of Fame. The Booth House, generally unaltered since its construction, is now appointed with period furnishings and Booth family memorabilia. The ten-acre site also includes two hiking trails that provide scenic overlooks of the grounds and serves as a firebreak.


Barnes, M.E. “Fish Hatcheries and Stocking Practices: Past and Present.” In History of Fisheries and Fishing in South Dakota, edited by C. Berry, K. Higgins, D. Willis, S. Chipps, 267-294. Pierre: South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, 2007.

Gerloff, Scott, “Spearfish Hatchery,” Lawrence County, South Dakota. National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form, 1978. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

Higbee, Paul, and Aney, Kathleen. Spearfish: A History. Spearfish, SD: Black Hills and Bighorns History Project, 2000.

“Our History: D.C. Booth National Fish Hatchery and Archives.” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Accessed April 8, 2020.

Writing Credits

Michelle L. Dennis



  • 1899

  • 1930

    WPA improvements
  • 1989

    Collection Management Facility built
  • 1995

    Renovated and opened as museum

What's Nearby


Michelle L. Dennis, "D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives", [Spearfish, South Dakota], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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