Hackettstown State Fish Hatchery -100 years
Also known as the Charles O Hayford State Fish Hatchery. In 2012 the hatchery will be 100 years old and the Division of Fish and Wildlife is working on trying to have an open house weekend in June next year to allow folks to come see the place. The hatchery has been closed to the public since about 1987 due to grounds and maintenance issues. The hatchery is and has been fully functional since 1912, currently raising about 3 million cool and warm water fish that are stocked in public waters in all 21 counties. I am reaching out to as many people as possible for information/pictures of the hatchery. It has a long history in town and I know personally from talking to tons of folks that many of you have been here at one time or another. You can check out updated info about the facility at www.njfishandwildlife.com. We are going to have a couple of articles in next years fishing digest/reg book at the hatchery and the people how ran it for the 100 years. Thanks for your interest in this great place, hope to see folks next year for the 100th anniversary.
I can't contribute any history but really hope you succeed. My yard abuts the Hatchery and I would love to attend an open house.
My yard abuts the Hatchery, as well, emaxxman. :o)
I miss when the Hatchery was open. We used to walk through it to get to school and would stop in to look at the breeding tanks. They had little food vending machines there to feed the fish, as well. We always had to get a chocolate drink from the A-Treat machine, too - can never foget that, LOL
Used to go there as a kid and feed the fish, and if we were really brave, walk between the tanks. I was always petrified I would fall in, but of course never did. Our neighbor growing up was an early employee of the Hatchery and had a photo in her house from the Gazette of her with a fishing rod on opening day. It was all posed of course.....
My Grandfather worked at the hatchery and have fond memories of going there. I have a few pictures. Can't wait for the open house next year
My family collected old postcards from Hackettstown and Western NJ.
I have several old post cards of the hatchery....who should I contact if you would like to see or use them.....
I used to cut throught the hatchery to get home from school in the 1980's. There was always something going on. I ended up working there as summer help in 1988. The work wasn't easy nor did it pay well but I have fond memories of it.
Hey Summerhelp I started my career here 24 years ago in 1987 maybe we worked together back then. Still doesn't pay much and its still alot of work, but I have tons of fond memories.
If you click on the envelope by my name and leave me a contact either a phone number or email address I will get in touch. Thanks alot for your help with this.
my uncle helped build parts of the fish hatchery when he was in the Civilian Conservation Corps...this was back in the 1930s...i have pictures
Re: Fish Hatchery AND Game Farm, grew up with Hayfords and Buntains, went to school with many of them. Many 'buddies' worked at one or the other in their early years. Annually, did volunteer 'stocking', assist to State employees. Remember when hatchery was NUMBER ONE trout hatchery in country! Did raise a few bass type, experimental. Trout were exported to many other States to help maintain H'Town Hatchery. (Keep taxes down = Combo Hunting and Fishing Anl Lic $3.15 - 15 cents went to person that made out Lic - normally Game Wardens wife). Both units held an annual picnic dinner for the benefit of politicians and State Officials. Family members catered affair for many years in the 30's and 40's. Where has the good life gone?
Thanks for adding your comments oldman and Oldsoldier. I hope to maybe meet with you guys to talk abit about the hatchery back then. I figured there were some local folks who worked with or grandparents worked with the CCC. The CCC Camp #62 opened in town in October of 1933 and closed in August of 1941. They had a big part in building ponds and raceways at the hatchery. They also had a big hand in alot of the State Parks locally. I do not have many photos of the CCC guys and would love to include them in this celebration.
I use to fish(1960s) that tributary small stream behind the old house across from Knapps Auto near the entrance of the football field area Hatchery. It was loaded with small trout that were easily spooked. I can't remember who lived there; but he was a school friend. Usually no one bothered us, however one time someone said we can not fish in that stream and chased us away. To this day, I am not sure if that stream was within Hatchery boundary or not near the house. It sure was a good spot.
Fishmaker....My cousin works for the Division of Fish and Wildlife. Do you know a guy named Trevor (He's like 7 feet tall in case there are a couple).
I would be interested in attending an open house next year. I grew up on the border of the hatchery and used to use it as a shortcut over to Htown. We got caught many times and yelled at by the man that ran the place probably in the early 80's.
My kids grew up in Kenwood Village and they used to have a path that crossed over the Hatchery to go to Hatchery Hill School.
LVMomOfBoys - about 30 years ago when I was ten I did get too close and fell into the end of one of the tanks, the part with the scary filter. I managed to grab the concrete edge with two hands that got so scraped up, but I held on for dear life - it seemed like such a long drop!
My neighbor who worked there was close by and pulled me out by the hands. Phew! Taught me a lesson and now I don't like edges and ledges at all...You just reminded me, still good memories of going there as a kid.
We used to walk across the large water pipes that went over a large ravine. It was pretty scary from what I remember.
Its funny after hearing all of your stories its no wonder that the place has been closed to the public since like 1987. Its a great place and I am sure as a kid it was a playground with all the water, mud, turtles, etc... We are going to really put a major push on to get the place acceptable looking for you all to come and check out. There is never enough time in the day. I have been to a bunch of hatcheries around the country and it is rare to see one right in the middle of a town. It makes it kinda hard to manage with 4 miles of fence, sidewalks, dirt roads, trees.
Bob R Most of that small stream behind the house is on hatchery land and is probably open to fishing. I think it may be called Bowers Brook/Bauers Brook? I am sure with all the cold spring water coming out of the hatchery it can support some native trout.
M & K I do know your cousin Trevor pretty well. He is tall and he is a great guy and hard worker. I don't get to see him to often. I think we both work to hard and don't stray far from our work locations. He does Lands Management and they are always busy stocking trout and pheasants and we keep buying land and streams and can't keep up trying to manage them and keep them nice.
A few Questions for the Htown Hatchery experts:
* Was the hatchery area near Morrison Field an "add on" at a later date or was that part of the original hatchery construction ?
* Even in the 60s there were many areas of the two hatchery areas that had tank/pond water but were not being used fully,for example that long thin parcel with long ponds(maybe tanks) in the far back end of the Morrison Field Hatchery-behing the feed storage tank. When would you say was the peak production period where most everything was in service?
* I believe I read that water temperature and quality issues and aging infrastructure were the reasons for the move of the trout hatchery to the newer Pequest Hatchery location. Was the water really getting that much warmer and what were the quality issues? and/or was it more for trout production reasons that trout hatchery was moved.
* I recall some issue with a prevalent trout disease(maybe whirling?) that maybe also played a role in change.
If anyone knows some of this history I would most interested and ....thank you.
I have been doing as much research as possible. The East Hatchery/Alumni Field construction started in 1927 and trout were first raised in 1928 over there. There is a tremendous underground water supply in the East Hatchery area. I think HMUA gets alot of the town water from that same area. Those long narrow chains were used abit as trout raceways for some time, currently they are just carrying the spring down to the larger ponds below. It looks like peak production went from 1930 through the 60's. From what I read there were some fish disease issues starting to crop up in the late 60's. It also sounds like the 60's were tough on weather conditions. The winter of 60-61 was really bad and the severe drought from 61-65 really put a strain on trout production as the number one thing you need to raise alot of trout is fresh 50 degree spring water as lots of it.
The Pequest Trout Hatchery started raising trout in Oxford in 1983. Hackettstown raises Lake trout and all sorts of coola and warm water species, musky, walleye, channels. largemouth, smallmouth, hybrid striped bass.
Forgot to thank you for your reply..thanks again..I did not know I was addressing the Hatchery Super.....Nice to see managers like yourself accessible and totally interested.
In 1961 I was a "guest" of the State of NJ, at Warren Residential group Center in Oxford. There were 20 boys there and we all worked at the fish hatchery. I remeber many of the employees there. Bob Williams was director. I remember Bob DuMont, Al Applegate and a bunch of them by their first names, Marty stands out. It was quite an experience, being out there all winter, feeding and treating the fish, getting wet and cold. Pool #9 was where they kept the largest trout. I was planning on visiting there soon but now I see it's closed to the public. Does anyone know when it will re-open?
I was not around the hatchery back then, but I have heard folks speak of the "Warren Boys". I know you guys helped out alot with the everyday jobs around the hatchery. I do remember some of the names that you mentioned above, only stories of them as I wasn't born til 1965. We are currently planning an event to be held June 2nd & 3rd, 2012 at the hatchery celebrating it being there for 100 years. Currently there are no plans to open the facility to the public full time. It would be great to see you that weekend and I am sure you would enjoy seeing what has become of the place.
The New Year started the 100th year for the Hackettstown State Fish Hatchery (Charles O Hayford State Fish Hatchery). The NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife is planning on holding a Centennial Celebration on June 2 and 3 for the public. The facility has not been open to the public for about 25 years. We should have information posted soon on the website njfishandwildlife.com. The newly released fishing digest is full of photos and articles about the place. It is available at all license agents, Pequest Hatchery, Walmart, Simon and Peter Sports, etc... Here are a few older pics of the place. Funny seeing aerial with no College View, Mitchell, Lawrence, Alexandria and Mansfield Apartments. Hope to see many of you there for some fish related fun for all ages.
heres a nice shot of the hatchery...just off of 5th avenue...that was quite a tourist attraction in the late 60s and early 70s...on the weekends when you were on the streets of Hackettstown...people would call you over to their cars...to ask for directions to the hatchery...sometimes as a prank we would give them the wrong directions...
That's amazing, fishmaker1! I grew up in the College View development and it's neat to see what it looked like. Here's what the same area looks like now.
My dad worked for Fish and Game for 20 years. I'm sure he has worked in the hatchery since he started in 1984 and retired in 2005.
What great pics, fishmaker1!! We were one of the first houses in Kenwood Village when that development was built by Mr. Klingman and am very familiar with the way the Fish Hatchery was and how it looked back then. All the kids in Kenwood used it as a shortcut over to school and remember us parents taking turns watching out for the kids crossing over when school let out.( I think we called that lane " the cat walk" )... I have already marked my calendar for the celebration in June.
Not sure on this one, wish we had one to display. Makes you wonder where it is now?
When we were kids our grade school took us on a field trip to the hackettstown Hatchery do they still take the kids to the new hatchery on 46 ?
heres an old family picture...my uncle worked on the hatchery while in the Civilian Conservation Corps...this picture dates from the late thirties or early 1940s
Fishmaker1, Couple questions. First the Reese ave photo. The building up front.. is that the old foundation that still exists along the path going up to the high school by the gate? That is an amazing photo. Also during the anniversary weekend.. will the public be allowed in to walk the grounds or are you planning only to take guide tour groups in at certain times? I'm looking to get some of the old gang together for that weekend if timing works out. Looking forward to seeing as like Caged I only have been in once on a school trip many years ago...
My dad, Frank Wheeler worked for the Hackettstown State Fish Hatchery for over 40 years. he took care of small stock. Stipped the fish for school groups that used to visit the hatchery many years ago. Wish I could find more information on the old history.
Metsman - What was your Dad's first name? Maybe I have some pictures.
Caged - Pequest does offer programs on a limited basis for groups. Try 637-4125 for more information.
Oldman - that is a great picture of the CCC days. I have spoken with a couple of guys whose fathers did work at the hatchery. Would like to see more pictures if you have them. Do you know where the local barracks were?
MrChevy - that is the old spring house that looked so new in the Reese Ave photo. I wonder when that great clay tile roof collased. The public will be allowed into parts of the facility. It won't be free roaming of the whole facility, but I think you will get a good look at what we are doing there.
Marilyn- Great to hear from you. Your Dad must have liked the place if he worked 40 years there. The place definitely grows on you. I have heard a couple of retired guys speak about your Dad. I will post some more pictures, maybe you will see your Dad in them. If you come across any history of photos we would love to see them.
Thanks all for your interest and reponses. We are hunting down everything we can find out.
heres a picture of the Hackettstown Civilian Conservation Corps sign with two officers...the camp was located on Willow Grove Street...right next to the American Legion all the buildings still stand and are now converted to private homes it was Company 1276...CCC Camp S-62
Fishmaker1, I'll PM you. I have enough problems with a few people on this site. I don't need to drag my dad into it to.
I volunteered one time back in 1999. It was a very enjoyable experience stocking the fish. I did a run up by Wanaque.
I was hired in 1980 as a seasonal employee at Hackettstown hatchery. It was hard work and low pay but I loved it. My job was feeding the fish (walking along the raceways with buckets back then!) and tending the nursery. I was then hired full time after the stocking season ended, the first woman to be hired as a fisheries worker. Then when Pequest opened I was among the first employees to start it up. I have many fond memories of working there (both locations) and consider myself lucky to have had such a great outdoor job. I left in 1984 when I had a baby. I look forward to attending the 100th anniversary.
Wow, Cindy...this is exciting for you to see it now after all this time. Myself, also, having lived in Kenwood Village and frequenting the Hatchery years ago to show family and friends the Hatchery as just part of showing them what our Hackettstown Fish Hatchery was like. It kind of was like a "tourist attraction" back then.
Great to hear from you. I started the summer of 1987. I worked with guys like Kurt powers, Bob Olsen, Paul Ritter and Paul Golas. I remember those guys saying what a great worker you were. Some of our best fish culturists at both hatcheries have been women. Women seem to have a knack for working with the small fish. Like you said it is very tough work, lots of physical labor and long days and nights. No night watch people in Htown, lots of baby sitting when the eggs are hatching.
Do you have any pictures from your time in Htown? We do not seem to have many pictures from the early 80's. Hope to see you in June. The place will definitely look different hopefully at least some for the better.
Couple of modern day pics of what you might see.
Fisheries worker Ryan with Budd Lake Northern pike.
Five million walleye eggs incubating in McDonald style hatching jars. 15 days to hatch.
Fishmaker - why is the Hatchery closed to the public now? I've always wanted to come and photograph the birds that frequent the Hatchery. What are the grounds and maintenance issues??
What great photos...I remember the school outing to visit the Hatchery when I was in grammar school..I also remember how we were allowed to ice skate on some of the back ponds/tanks...was such family fun.
I recall seeing a lot of snakes(1960s) in the stream that runs through the main hatchery. We actually pulled some kind of poisonous snake up(had fat head-golden color) with sticks and provoked it...not the smartest thing for 10 year olds to be doing,but such were the days back then...why did they call the concrete tanks snake pits? I can only guess that they were feeding on rainbow delicasy.
Still lots of water snakes around the ponds especially in the rocky areas. More so over at the East Hatchery (Alumni Field). They called the concrete pools below the buildings the "Snakepits" because they were designed to flow water down one pool then up the next in an "S" shape. The concept never really worked. Here is a picture of those pools being fed.
Nice picture of some old trucks and fish. They have a sorter hung on the wall and they were sizing (grading) the fish so they did not eat each other and got the best growth on them.
Couple of guys netting up some fish in a pond. Maybe someone will pick out a dad or grandpa in one of these photos.
We just sent the 100 year old metal gates that hung for years on the brick pillars on the end of Reese Ave by the Gate House over to Lodi Welding to have them try and rehab them for the 100 year Centennial Celebration in June. Wondering if anyone has any pictures of the old gateway in its glory days? They have been down for the past 25 years that I have been there. Work is going to begin in the next couple of weeks on the brick pillars and we will be planting 30 new 12 foot maple trees on the lane coming down. Lots to do by June 2nd & 3rd.
I have really enjoyed the commentary and pictures on this thread. My passion is local history (particularly the Morris Canal). I did not grow up here, but live in Hackettstown now and I'm facinated with finding out more about the history of our area. Thanks to all who posted the wonderful photos. I would love to come to the open house at the Hatchery in June.
This is so great! My grandfather built the hatchery in 1912. My father Robert Hayford started working "part time" as a 10 year old, picking out dead fish. Eventually, he stood by my Grandpa Charlie's side as assistant superintendent for many,many years. I hope to attend in June, and connect with some of the descendants of those guys who worked with my Dad and Grandfather:John Wiley, George Sutton, Willis Beaty, Cliff Strand, Barney Wheeler ... My brother Robert can add to this list for sure! I know I am forgetting many great old timers who worked there. Wow! This is great! Charles and Robert would be so proud of this event.
Nancy: George Sutton was my husband's cousin. I have this event marked on our calendar as well.
That's great news! Wish I could be there. I and my sisters and brother spent many memorable summers with Grandma and Grandpa Hayford at their house (the state house) on the hill right above the trout hatchery. Each summer we piled out of the car, all five of us, and re-explored all the corners of their gigantic and wonderful house, which was more like two houses because one side had a separate entrance into a hallway leading into the Commissioner's meeting room. The hallway had its own flight of steps up to a separate unit where visitors could stay. And then we headed for the huge and sprawling trout hatchery, which was a kid’s delight, complete with frogs and snakes and soaring water birds. We liked the building where the fingerling fish were kept in troughs of flowing water (such a lovely, cool sound) and also the cement display ponds where trout of various sizes were being tended. We especially like the biggest ones. We were fascinated by the odoriferous “meat room,” where various beefy cuts were tossed into a gigantic, noisy grinder to feed to the largest fish. (Aunt Eleanor's father ran the meat room.) Flies liked it too. The employees knew us well and always took the time to chat while they continued whatever they were doing—cleaning the display ponds, feeding the fish, directing visitors. Then we went over to see Uncle Bob and Aunt Eleanor in their little cottage at the end of Hatchery Road that used to be the Gate House to the property. Uncle Bob worked at the hatchery and dropped in every morning for one of Grandma's wonderful breakfasts.
All the best, Dorothy Hayford Tresselt Victor
I have this event on my calendar also. I am so looking forward to it, especially after reading all the interesting things on this thread.
All these stories and talk about the hatchery is making me extremely excited to visit! It seems as though the entire town and possibly the whole state are going to show up. I hope the hatchery has enough room for all these curious people!!!!
Good question Helping hand. If you saw what my day was like today trying to get the place in shape you would think I was insane. Contractors working on the front brick gates, hatchery fishing ponds, new doors, asbestos removal, roof and gutter repairs. We are planting 30 new October Red Maples along the drive in tomorrow. Dump trucks of top soil dumping so we can plant some grass tomorrow. Sounds like the word is spreading quickly, we have had a bunch of phone calls this week from vendors and exhibitors.
Exciting this week also we made contact with Charlie Hayford's grand daughter Nancy and she is sending us a bunch of history and photos.
Plus we did the fish work that we would normally do. We are excitied, not enough hours in a day.
fishmaker1, The efforts are paying off. While out for my walk a couple nights ago I was admiring how good things are starting to look with all the work. Very impressive. Can't wait to see the finished job. While you have no plans to open fully in the future. Once done will you be booking school trips for tours at all? I always thought they were the best trips as a kid that and Stokes forest. Keep up the good work... looking great!
2014 Topic that really needs to be addressed. I would like to know,along with many others,why Weequahic Park in Newark,Nj does not have Trout,Eels,Crappie,Channel cats or Pike. We as the people in Newark deserve to have those fish stocked in our water. Since we pay for our fishing license,which is a major contribute to Hackettstown Fish Hatchery,we really do deserve the right to have thee above fish stocked in Weequahic Park. Thank you for your time,& not just I,but a large group of anglers would like a response!!
Weequahic Park could not support a cold water trout fishery.
I do not believe the state raises eels.
The other warm water fish may be more appropriate, not sure if crappies have specific water quality requirements.
The state stocks trout in MANY places where they can not survive. Probably most of the waters that are stocked get to warm in the summer to support trout. Personally, I think the program is a waste of money. If they're going to stock warmer waters, at least stock species that can survive in them.
Tony, you right. Newark should get its fair share. You can check out NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife website for stocking locations. I'm sure their are some. If you want to lobby someone to stock your particular lake, you should direct your comments to the Division's freshwater fisheries program and the Fish and Game Council. Good luck.
Th Hackettstown Hatchery is a fish culture facility that stocks 2 to 3 million fish annually in public waters around the State. We raise 15 species including many that you named. We do not raise eels. I believe we do stock channel catfish, brown bullheads and sunfish in there quite often. The water warms into the 80's early in the summer and will not support species such as trout, pike, walleye and other cool and cold water species year round. I did a kids fishing derby there a few years ago and it was hard to find a place to stock the fish because it was so weed choked. We just raise the fish at the hatchery, there are Regional Biologists at the Lebanon Fish Lab that decide where, how many and how often they go there. You could try and contact them for a better explanation of what we stock in Newark. The number is 908-236-2118. We do stock many other waters in the Newark Area including Branch Brook Park, Verona Park, Orange Park, Grover Cleveland Park, Crystal Lake, etc... Check out the Division website for all waters stocked by Hackettstown Annually. Good Luck fishing in 2014.
Jim O'Ross was there forever. Gave my daughter giant bullfrogs and she won for the biggest bullfrog at our church picnic every time! Miss him :(
Can I take a walk in the Fish Hatchery? We have just purchased a house that backs up to the Fish Hatchery and I was wondering if it was open now for things like that. We have not yet moved in, so I haven't had the opportunity to speak with anyone about things like that. Thanks for any info!
I walk through the hatchery at Alumni field all the time,I always see people walking dogs etc. ....the workers will even talk to you and tell you about the fish.
The hatchery behind Centenary College is closed to the public. The hatchery over at Alumni Field is open to the public to walk through.
Charlene - welcome to Hackettstown! There are several places the hatchery hatches fish. I think just tell us what road the Hatchery is on near your house - that way we can answer your question.
I was one of those Warren Boys that worked in the hatchery in 1978, we worked 8 hours a day, for .50 cents a day. I remember breeding trout, we even had baby trouts with two heads,,i also helped stocking all the rivers in NJ, cleaning all the concrete ponds with a fire hose, chopping down and carrying away poison ivy and oak, it was hard work but all the people were great to work with.
Great to here from you. I have worked there for 30 years and enjoy it. The place is 105 years old and going strong. So many people have had a hand in making it great.
Larry 50 cents a day in 1978? I worked at Morgans Florists on Warren St in late 1960s for $1.00 an hour. You worked too hard for that kind of money!
This pic was posted in a comment and identified as a Reo -- it is a Garford, circa 1918.
"Larry 50 cents a day in 1978? I worked at Morgans Florists on Warren St in late 1960s for $1.00 an hour. You worked too hard for that kind of money!"
Little Rascal, I know your post is almost 2 years old... but "Warren Boys" refers to juvenile delinquents who were housed at what we always knew as Warren Acres. It's not like any kid off the street could be made to work for 6 cents per hour in 1978.
If Larry was lucky, he got out of there before Sheriff Bullock got in...
Just a random question. Most if not all of the hatchery’s in PA are open to the public and let you even feed the fish (They provide the pellets). Is the Hackettstown Hatchery open to the public? I could not find out anything on-line.
The Hackettstown Hatchery is not generally open to the public. I do believe they have opened for a special occasions in the past. I also think they do a lot of experimental breeding and specialized feedings, which would prohibit people walking through. Besides they have very few people working there. Workers are usually busy maintaining ponds and surrounding areas.
A long time ago it used to be open to the public for tours, but when they opened the Pequest hatchery, they shifted the tours and everything over to that facility.
Long way off , but 110 Year Anniversary is coming up in 2022. Planning on another public event.
I grew up in Hackettstown in the 60's into the early 70's. I went to Hatchery Hill Elementary School and walked by the Hatchery every day. I just lost my Dad, I'd love to re-live my memories. Is it not a Hatchery any longer?
There is facebook page for the hatchery:
The hatchery is still in operation, it is not normally open to the public, especially during a pandemic. But they do have occasional functions there, especially in January when they usually have a fisheries forum. I'm not in Hackettstown any longer but if you call the NJ F&W offices or visit the NJF&W website they may be able to help you arrange a visit or tour. (I know the supervisor is on these forums, hopefully he can assist.)
Sorry for the loss of your dad. The hatchery is closed to the public and has been since the mid 80's. If you are in the area this Spring when the weather breaks send me an email at email@example.com and we can make it happen. I am the Superintendent. Many great memories with so much history. 2022 is the 110th Anniversary.
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