They Want to Abolish the Fishway

by Laurel | February 1st, 2012



01 February 1895

The old fishway that has stood for over 20 years at the east end of the dam is doomed, for it will have to be torn out of the way when the water-power company gets thoroughly at work on the dam. The company has asked the Legislature to take notice of the facts, and permit it to be abolished. As far as being of any use is concerned, the fishway may be destroyed and not be missed. It was built to accommodate the shad when they wished to go up the river to spawn, but as far as anyone knows, not a shad has been taken north of the dam since the way was built. There have been fish seen in the pools at the base of the dam, but they are few in number, as the pound nets of the Nutmeg State fishermen catch nearly every one that comes along. The pollution of the water by sewage of all the cities and towns along the Connecticut has discouraged much migration of fish. This work was put it 21 years ago and cost about $30,000. The way has a fall of one foot in 15, and it has a total fall of 28 feet, because it enters the dam. Thus it is about 430 feet long. and the lone fish that attempts to go up has to travel many feet more. They way is 16 feet wide and is broken by partitions, so that the current is not too swift at any time. The course is serpentine and plenty of water has been afforded in the way. It is always sufficient unless the water gets more than two feet below the crest. The company has been obliged to keep the way in repair, and has spent much money on it that has probably been useless. The fishermen who go up the river for their sport do not think that the way is of any practical value. The state authorities had also spent considerable money on the place.

From The Springfield Republican.

5 Responses to “They Want to Abolish the Fishway”

  1. I didn’t know migrations had changed so much. I think I remember going down to the dam 50-55 years ago with my grandparents to watch the fish being lifted over the dam. My memory says there were a lot of fish. I didn’t know about the fishway or the changes. Sad to see the fish gone. . .

  2. Sarah, as long as I can remember there was talk about restoring the quantity of fish that had once lived in the river, not to mention cleaning it up. I was surprised to see some of these concerns in the 1890’s. I am hoping more fish may be in the river these days.

  3. Glenn Sullivan says:

    See John T. Cumbler’s “Reasonable Use” for an informative take on the health of the river thru the Industrial Revolution.

  4. Thanks Glenn. This book seems to be (as of today, at least) available via Google Books courtesy Oxford University Press at the following link:

  5. Correction: above link to Reasonable Use is a preview …

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