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Fish Hatchery Opens Its Door To Historic Tour

“Sunbeam” the pet fish from the Hatchery allowed visitors to remove him from the water and hold him.

“Sunbeam” the pet fish from the Hatchery allowed visitors to remove him from the water and hold him.

“Eyed,” “sac-fry,” “swim-up,” and “fingerling” all were a part of the everyday language used at the Estes Park Fish Hatchery which was opened in 1907 and operated until the Lawn Lake Flood in 1982. Learn more about the history and impact of this important part of Estes Park’s past on the 10th Annual Historic Tour. This is just one of many sites which will be visited on September 14th under the expertise of Estes Park Historian Laureate Dr. Jim Pickering, Estes Park Museum Director and Curator of Exhibits Derek Fortini, and Curator of Education Alicia Mittelman. This annual fundraiser for the Museum is offered by the Estes Park Museum Friends & Foundation, Inc. and is under the financial sponsorship of Judy Nystrom & Julia Daley: The Home Team at 1st Colorado Realty in Estes Park.

The fish hatchery began as a private community effort in 1907 undertaken by the Estes Park Protective and Improveiment Association and under the leadership of the first fish hatchery superintendent, Gaylord Thomson. On the tour you will learn about Thomson’s pet fish, Sunbeam, who was a major attraction for 1907 tourists as well as local residents. By the late 1920s, the fish hatchery was operated by the State of Colorado. The hatchery was home to millions of eggs used for the purpose of breeding and stocking in the streams of Estes Park, Ward, Idaho Springs, Golden, Boulder, and other towns in this region. By 1980 the Estes Park hatchery had around 200,000 brood fish housed in 20 ponds on the property. You’ll also learn what happened to the fish hatchery when an estimated 6,000 cubic feet of water per second swept through the area during the Lawn Lake flood.

“We started the tour ten years ago to give the public an opportunity to learn about the fascinating history of the Estes Valley,” says EPMF&F board member Harry Livingston. “This year’s tour will be a one-of-a-kind type tour and because there are a limited number of tickets available, we strongly recommend that you purchase your tickets early.”

This annual tour is a major fundraiser by the Friends and all proceeds will benefit the museum. On Saturday, September 14th, participants will step back in time to experience Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park just the way tourists and visitors did nearly a century ago. After an illustrated talk by Jim Pickering at the museum, guests will board “touring” buses and begin an exciting day of historic exploration, visiting seven sites with stops at a dozen more. For more information and tickets, visit For tickets to be mailed, visit the museum with cash or check. Remember: tickets are limited, and you don’t want to miss this unique “10th Anniversary Historic Tour.”

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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