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Throwback Thursday: A Historic Hatchery

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Salmon has long been a vital part of the culture and economy of the Pacific Northwest. As the cultural and spiritual focal point of Native American life and customs, it quickly became a major food source for early settlers.   As the population of the Pacific Northwest increased, advances in canning and other preservation techniques contributed to increased harvest as salmon became an international commodity. By the late 19th century, overfishing left fish stock nearly depleted and hatcheries were envisioned as a means of accommodating increased demand while protecting endangered habitat.

soos creek fish hatchery, soos creek hatchery, soos creek fish hatchery sign, soos fish hatchery, soos creek, auburn wa fish hatchery, soos creek salmon hatchery, soos creek fish hatchery history
Employees outside Soos Creek Salmon Hatchery, Auburn, ca. 1910. Supervisor Albert M. “Al” Glenn is second from left. | Courtesy Museum of History & Industry

Soos Creek Hatchery

Opened by the Washington Department of Fisheries, the Soos Creek Hatchery is one of the earliest in the state.   Beginning operation in 1901, workers hatched salmon eggs in the hatchery’s pools and raised young salmon for release in area streams.

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The hatchery is still operational and has been noted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for its high survival rates.  Located east of Auburn in the Soos Creek Basin along lower Soos Creek, the area is home to some of the largest spawning grounds in the continental United States.  It now raises and releases fall Chinook salmon, Coho salmon, and both winter and summer-run Steelhead, contributing to recreational and commercial fisheries along the ocean fisheries of the Pacific Coast and Puget Sound.

salmon hatchery, salmon, samon, salmon ladder,
credit: Canva

A multi-phase project has been underway involving the redevelopment of facilities on higher ground, providing protection from floodwater and allowing for continued operation during storm events.   The final phase will be completed with support facilities such as staff housing and public amenities that serve visitor needs, enabling the public to enjoy this representation of the Pacific Northwest and its heritage.

Curious about the history of somewhere in Auburn? Send us an email and let us know!

The original publication of this article included a photograph incorrectly labeled as Soos Creek Hatchery. This photo has been removed and replaced with the current header image.

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One Comment

  1. Robert B Robert B December 11, 2020

    Washington state has a whopping NINETY_NINE fish hatcheries and rearing ponds, believe it or not. When it comes to raising fish, this state is right at the top of the list trying to keep fish species viable. Salmon are released in huge numbers from hatcheries in Washington, and our lakes are filled with trout in the same manner. For the lakes, they come in to a lake in a big tanker truck, (looks like a gasoline truck), open the release at the rear of the truck, and the fish usually slide right into the lake on a sort of platform. Lakes are stocked according to size of the lake, (bigger lake, more fish get delivered to that lake), and they hit just about every lake in the state you can reach by road. Some smaller, more remote lakes are stocked by getting as close as you can, and then packing in the fish using smaller containers. All 99 hatcheries and ponds and their details are listed here: https://data.wa.gov/w/hjdc-v2n4/mncn-zj8q?cur=gGz4332NcC_

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