Picturing Our History

GRETNA FISHERIES: The oldest fish hatchery in the state was established in Gretna in 1882. It was a delightful get--away for Ashland folk with its ponds and canyons and trails. (Photo provided by the Ashland Historical Society)

State Fisheries – present day Schramm Park

A trip to the fisheries south of Gretna is always a treat. It now has expanded to include the Aksarben Aquarium as well as the Gretna State Fish Hatchery. It is the oldest fish hatchery in the State and was established in 1882. In 1879 the Nebraska Board of Fish Commissioners contracted with the Santee Hatchery to raise trout and salmon. Three years later the agency purchased that facility, a 54 acre tract, for $81,200. It was the state’s first fish hatchery and recreational area.

The original hatch house was replaced in 1914 at a cost of $4,000 and it still stands and is now a fish hatchery museum open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. It contains fascinating early photos of the development of the area.

The fisheries have always been a close and delightful get-away for Ashland folk with its ponds and canyons and trails. The July 25, 1912 issue of The Ashland Gazette notes that Frank E. Marcy and family picnicked at the fisheries at South Bend with friends from Ithaca. It would have been a day-long expedition with several cars or buggies involved.

The fisheries road runs along the east side of the Platte River with a good view of the river valley. It was a low road close to the river and would wash in heavy rains so a dry day was necessary for a visit to the fisheries.

The ladies would have packed food and drinks as there were no concessions. They would have worn cool summer dresses and probably hats to keep the sun from their fair complexions. The hatch house would have been the original building and not the one shown in this picture. They probably placed quilts on the ground for the picnic and perhaps enjoyed a nap after lunch.

Frank Marcy was one of several blacksmiths in Ashland. He and his wife Jennie lived on Silver Street across from his blacksmith shop which was on the north side of Silver Street between 16th and 17th streets. His mother-in-law, Caroline Putney, lived with them so she would have helped keep an eye on the children, Mignon and Kenneth, as they played with the other children around the fish ponds. They would have explored the trails and canyons and fed the fish. Then they would have packed up and followed the Platte River road back to Ashland.

Today the roads are paved and there are picnic tables and swing sets but the fisheries continue to be a great get-away.

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