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VIDEO: Hackettstown State Fish Hatchery celebrates its 110th anniversary

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (Warren County) – This year marks the 110th anniversary of the Charles O. Hayford State Fish Hatchery, commonly known as the Hackettstown State Fish Hatchery.

Located in the heart of Hackettstown, the hatchery encompasses 240 acres, with 65 freshwater ponds, and features a state-of-the-art intensive fish culture facility. The site was chosen in 1911 for its ample supply of pure, cool spring water, and a running brook, plus convenient, nearby shipping opportunities.

Funded by a special state appropriation of $30,000, workers using horses and shovels began construction of the hatchery in May of 1912. Initial delays in construction, due to extensive bidding and contract procedures, were expedited by Governor Woodrow Wilson just four months before he was elected president.

With the red tape cleared, the main culture building and hatch house were completed in 1912, taking just a few months under the watchful eye of Charles O. Hayford, the hatchery’s first superintendent. Less than a year later, 86,700 brook trout fingerlings were planted in New Jersey streams. The first fish from the new hatchery were driven to stocking sites by Hayford himself.

Hatchery construction continued over several years with the addition of a superintendent’s house, a gate house, spring houses, a grinding house, an ice house, carpenter shop, second nursery building, raceways and ponds. Hundreds of feet of iron pipe also were laid to carry water from the springs and brook to the hatchery.

The original main hatchery building still stands today and was used for rearing of fish until 1999, when a new, 12,500-square foot intensive fish culture building was constructed for the purpose of raising more and larger cool-water and warm-water fish.

The Hackettstown Hatchery produced millions of trout for New Jersey anglers from 1913 to 1983. For decades, the hatchery also was a popular attraction for the public with more than 100,000 visitors touring the site annually in the 1950s and 1960s. The hatchery remained open to the public until 1984 when the newly completed nearby Pequest State Trout Hatchery took over the duties of raising brook, brown and rainbow trout for stocking statewide.

With Pequest online, the Hackettstown hatchery became entirely dedicated to raising warm- and cool-water species such as muskellunge, walleye, northern pike and channel catfish.

Today, the Hackettstown State Fish Hatchery produces and distributes 15 species of cold, cool and warmwater fish, totaling about 2.5 million fish each year.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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