The U.S. Fish Commission and the Early Days of Fish Culture

The Interior of the U.S. Fish Commission's Central Station in Washington D.C. The jars in the background are hatching jars for eggs. Fish and eggs from all over the world were collected and distributed from this room.  National Archives 22-ffb-491 The U.S. Fish Commission raised fish for several years in ponds on what is now the National Mall in Washington D.C.  National Archives For several years, the U.S. Fish Commission raised fish in ponds on what is now the National Mall in Washington D.C. In this photo, fish arrive in milk containers on a horse-drawn cart. Note the unfinished Washington Monument in the background.  National Archives 22-FFB-539 Robert Roosevelt is more commonly known today as the uncle of Teddy. However, he was a powerful and well-known man in his own right in the last decades of the 19th century. He was a strong believer in the acclimatization movement and, during his one term in Congress, introduced the bill that ultimately led to the creation of the U.S. Fish Commission.  Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division LC-BH83- 2593 Seth Green was known as the father of fish culture in America. In his 1857 report to the Vermont legislature, George Perkins Marsh declared that "the people of New England are suffering, both physically and morally, from a too close and absorbing attention to pecuniary interests, and occupations of mere routine. We have notoriously less physical hardihood and endurance than the generation which preceded our own, our habits are those of less bodily activity; the sports of the field, and the athletic games with which the village green formerly rung upon every military an Spencer Fullerton Baird was the leader of the U.S. Fish Commission in its first years.  Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 2, Folder 7 The U.S. Fish Commission freely delivered fish to government as well as private groups and individuals. The Commission would send a telegraph a few days before they arrived, and the recipients would wait at the train station to pick up the fish and stock them into local rivers or ponds.  National Archives 22-FFB-1000 Spawning Rainbow trout at a U.S. Fish Commission facility in Iowa.  National Archives. Fish were delivered all over the country on special fish delivery train cars like this. National Archives 22-FFB-1001 Stocking fish in an unnamed stream. National Archives Inside one of the U.S. Fish Commission's fish cars--specially designed railroad cars in which fish and their attendants could travel around the country.  National Archives FFB-384

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